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How UbD Fits into CBE

How UbD Fits into CBE

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will consider how the structure of planning with Understanding by Design connects to planning for competency-based education.

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In this tutorial, we'll connect the elements of Understanding by Design to Competency-Based Education. We'll begin by reviewing the Understanding by Design stages and the facets of understanding. Then we'll review the WHERETO acronym. And finally we'll connect UbD and CBE. Let's get started.

Recall that Understanding by Design, or UbD, is an instructional design process in which you begin with the end goal. In other words, UbD is a backward design process. You first set your instructional goals, then you identify the associated outcomes. In other words, how those instructional goals will be assessed. And then finally you plan the associated learning activities.

So the three stages of Understanding by Design are identifying desired results, determining acceptable evidence, and developing a learning plan. In stage one, you'll identify the goal that you would like students to meet at the end of the instructional period. This would be where you would specify the content standard or a learning objective.

You outline the big ideas or the understandings that students will be developing throughout the instruction. You'll write the essential questions or the open-ended questions that you want to help promote understanding and inquiry in your students. And you'll identify the key knowledge and skills that students will know and be able to acquire.

In stage two, you'll identify not only the main performance assessment that will be used at the end of the unit of instruction, but also the other evidence that will be used to monitor students' progress along the way. The ending performance assessment should be an authentic assessment or a product that students produce in order to demonstrate their achievement of the understandings that are desired throughout the unit.

In this stage you'll also develop any necessary rubrics, or the criteria that you are going to use to evaluate their performance or the product. In this stage you'll also determine any other evidence that students might use both to reflect on their own learning and to demonstrate their learning to you. This would be where you would develop homework assignments, quizzes, and tests, worksheets, journals, observations, et cetera.

And finally, in stage three is where you develop the specific learning plan. You'll plan the learning activities that students will engage in throughout your instruction.

So now that we've taken a look the UbD stages, let's review the six facets of understanding in Understanding by Design. The six facets are explain, interpret, apply, have perspective, empathize, and have self knowledge. The first facet is explain. Students should be able to recall facts and data.

Next is interpret. Students should be able to make subjects personally relevant. They should be able to turn new information into meaningful stories and to provide dimensions both to ideas and to events. Next is apply. This means that students should be able to use new information in other contexts and adapt their learning and their understandings into those other contexts as well.

Next is have prospective. Students should be able to see the big picture and see information and events from other points of view. Next is empathize. Students need to be able to find value in other people's perspectives and they need to be sensitive to others' perspectives and previous experiences.

And finally, have self-knowledge. We want students to understand their own understanding. We want them to be aware of the various habits of mind that influence understanding. In other words, we want students to know what they don't know.

Finally let's recap the WHERETO acronym. This is based on the work of Wiggins and McTighe. The W in WHERETO stands for WHERE and WHY. Make sure that your students always know WHERE you're headed, and WHY you're headed in that direction with their instruction.

Next is H. You should aim to HOOK your students early on in instruction and hold their attention throughout with meaningful and engaging instruction. The first E stands for, EQUIP. It's important that you EQUIP your students with the experiences, knowledge, tools, and know-how that they will need in their futures.

R stands for three words-- RETHINK, REFLECT, and REVISE. Be sure to provide your students with ample opportunities to RETHINK the big ideas that they've been learning about, to REFLECT on their own progress, and to REVISE their work as necessary. The second E reminds us that we should provide opportunities for our students to EVALUATE their own progress throughout.

T stands for, TAILOR. Whenever possible, TAILOR your instruction to meet the varying interests, talents, needs, and learning styles of your students. And finally, O stands for ORGANIZE. It's important that we are able to skillfully ORGANIZE our instruction in order to facilitate deeper understanding as opposed to using superficial coverage of information that doesn't facilitate that deeper thorough understanding of the material.

So let's see how Understanding by Design and Competency-Based Education relate to one another. Here are the five design principles of Competency-Based Education. Principle number one states that students advance upon mastery. This is related to Understanding by Design, stage one.

In UbD stage one, teachers identify the desired results. This definitely is related to the idea in CBE of students having to show mastery of the key knowledge and skills in order to progress through their learning plans. Mastery of these skills leads to mastery of the essential questions, which, in turn, leads to mastery of the established standards.

Design principle number two of CBE states that explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. This is also related to UbD, stage one. The competencies that students are working towards in CBE can be equated to be essential questions and those key skills, the knowledge and abilities, that you identify that your students are going to need to demonstrate.

CBE principle three states that assessment is meaningful, and a positive learning experience for students. This is related to Understanding by Design, stage two. In this stage, the teacher is developing the various forms of assessment that will be used to provide evidence that students have mastered skills.

This, then, is where we would design those diverse opportunities for students to demonstrate their mastery of the current competencies. CBE principle four reads, "students receive rapid, differentiated support." This differentiated support is based on students' individual learning needs. So this relates to the T in the WHERETO acronym.

As we are tailoring our instruction to reflect our student's individual interests, learning styles, talents, and needs, we can help create learning experiences in that UbD design process that really help to facilitate differentiated learning.

And finally, CBE design principle five learning outcomes emphasized include application and creation of knowledge. This, again, is connected to Understanding by Design, stage two. In stage two, you develop your main performance assessment that students are going to use to demonstrate those knowledge and skills that they've learned throughout the unit. Which, again, can be equated to a demonstration of the specific competencies in CBE.

Ideally, we want that main performance assessment to consider all six of the facets of understanding in UbD. We want to approach those higher level cognitive skills in order to our students to demonstrate a really thorough understanding and mastery of those competencies.

In this tutorial, we reviewed the three stages of Understanding by Design instructional planning and we reviewed the six facets of understanding in UbD. We then reviewed the WHERETO elements. And finally, we connected Understanding by Design and Competency-Based Education.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Have you tried designing an instructional unit using Understanding by Design's three stages? Can you see how Understanding by Design can be used in conjunction with Competency-Based Education to create really powerful personalized learning experience for students?

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "How UbD Fits into CBE"

(00:00 - 00:21) Introduction

(00:22 - 02:27) UbD Stages

(02:28 - 03:50) UbD Facets of Understanding

(03:51 - 05:21) W.H.E.R.E.T.O.

(05:22 - 08:03) UbD and CBE

(08:04 - 08:22) Review

(08:23 - 09:00) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

What is Understanding by Design and why should I use it?

The iTeachU site developed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks explains the purpose of and use for Understanding by Design. The site includes an online UbD course as well as helpful UbD tools for use in the classroom and in planning.

How do you plan? On templates and instructional planning

This site offers templates and advice directly from Grant Wiggins on the UbD planning process, template use, and classroom implementation.