Instructional Designer

Understanding by Design Framework


I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with the Understanding by Design framework designed by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. They provide a great free template on their website that helps when using this framework.

Understanding by Design is a backwards framework, that is, it starts with defining the goals and objectives first. From there, you create the content and assessments that align with those goals and objectives.

When doing my research for a theoretical course using this framework, I came across a few great websites. These are listed below.

However, Jay McTighe’s website houses the templates and I found it to be incredibly useful.

What I really loved about this framework: By providing places in Stage 1: Desired Results to guide the Instructional Designer on Transfer/ meaning and Acquisition, the basics of goals/objectives is fleshed out. This was a HUGE help to me in aligning the evidence and learning plan. I loved it so much that I think I’ll be including it in every design I do from here on out, even if my ID model doesn’t explicitly ask for it!


Here is my example of using UbD with Behaviorism theory to create a theoretical course. I took a bit of a tongue in cheek attitude and had some fun with this one! What do you think?

1st Video Description:  Watch a primary cleaner prepare to leave their home for a few days.  Watch them clean the house, do laundry, empty food containers & perishables, and pack.  This person will briefly explain what they are doing, and why they are doing it.  Then, watch as they return home after the vacation to find the house unclean/untidy and hear them voice their emotions about this.

Task video description:  Task videos show a person cleaning a particular area.  They show the cleaning supplies needed, how to use them safely and effectively, how much to use, and how to operate any household appliances if needed. Cleaning checklists shown/used and then provided to the learner with each video.

Online/Asynchronous:  Learners should prepare their findings and post to Padlet or a shared Google Document/Sharepoint or other collaborative online location.  Drawing of the house can be done in a collaborative whiteboard program, or any drawing program and then uploaded as a picture file.

Behaviorism at work:  Students perform the task with no more than 2 unclean/missed points – they are finished with the task.  Students perform the task with more than 2 unclean/missed points, they must re-do the given task.