The term backward design refers to an approach to schooling, both at the system level and classroom level, predicated on a tight focus on achieving predetermined mission-related goals. Backward design for education was largely created and popularized by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe as an alternative to traditional design approaches wherein teachers typically began with content (such as textbooks, novels, or standards) and then created instruction around the ideas or questions that arose from selected materials. The backward design approach asks teachers and school leaders to determine skills, ideas, understandings, and dispositions most critical for students and then build learning experiences that ensure those outcomes. This entry discusses the application of backward design to curriculum design, schools and school systems, system-wide programming, and evaluation.
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