Designing Assignments using Backwards Design
Starting by crafting learning outcome statements of the skills and knowledge you want your students to gain from the experience replaces building your course around lecture notes or predetermined assignments and activities.
- Identify what students should know and be able to do and communicate that in learning outcome statements.
- Create an assignment that supports those learning outcomes.
- Plan a sequence of assignments and activities that will prepare students to successfully complete the assessment.
Often in the backwards design process, instructors use Bloom’s Taxonomy when crafting learning outcomes and aligning those with assignments.
Be Transparent on Assignments by using Rubrics
Rubrics allow faculty the opportunity to communicate their expectations to students and provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, and prompt students to reflect on their own work.
Guiding Rubric Creation Questions:
- What is the purpose of the assignment? What learning outcomes does this assignment align with?
- What does this assignment look like? What are students doing? What do students need?
- What do students get out of completing this assignment?
- What does the product of this assignment look like given a high performance? An acceptable performance? What if the product falls below expectations?
- What will feedback look like on this assignment? What do you want students to do with this feedback? How does the feedback help with learning and align with future assessments?
Online Assignment Design
To deliver quality online learning, students need to understand the assignment expectations. Quality Matters Standards were created to help teachers with online assignment and activity design.
Quality Matters Learning Activities Standards:
- The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives or competencies.
- Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.
- The instructor’s plan for interacting with learners during the course is clearly stated.
- The requirements for learner interaction are clearly stated.
Characteristics of Effective Online Assignments
From Brown University, the features of an effective online assignment are described.
Creating Simple and Clear Assignments (PDF)
From our colleagues at CCRI, this is an interactive guide to understanding and applying the TILT Higher Ed Transparency Framework.
Measuring Transparency: A Learning-Focused Assignment Rubric
This document is a 'comprehensive rubric capable of assessing the quality of and guiding the design of major, or 'signature,' assignment descriptions.'
Examples and resources for developing scoring tools and rubrics for outcome assessment.
Video: Blooming with Bloom: Scaffolding remote assignments to support student learning
Recording from an ATL Conversation. Evaluate how to best structure our students’ learning experiences throughout the assignment design choices we make. How to create sequenced learning modules that link assessment to well defined higher learning objectives based upon Bloom’s Mastery Learning.