You should begin with a clear and explicit vision of where you are trying to get students to if they successfully complete the course. In other words, begin with the end in mind (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).

Identify SMART Learning Outcomes

What will students know or be able to do at the end of effectively participating in this course? The learning outcomes should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely/Time Bound. Well-written outcomes drive all the other aspects of the course.  You will likely have broader course-level outcomes as well as lesson or unit specific outcomes to guide the learning and assessment.

Define Evidence of Learning (Assessment)

How will you monitor student progress towards mastery of the learning outcomes? In other words, how will you and your students know if or when they have mastered each learning outcome? How will you, and your students, know if they are not on target? For most courses, assessments should not be limited to tests and quizzes. The assessments must be directly aligned with the learning outcomes.

Consider Learners and Context

Do the students who will participate in the course have any unique characteristics that might inform the course design? What do you expect they will already know and be able to do? Is there a subset of students who might not have pre-requisite knowledge or skills mastered before starting your course? How will you support these students? Does this course lead to others? How might you foreshadow later applications of the course? Reflect on the big picture of the anticipated students and context of the course before you move into selecting and designing activities.

Select/Design Tasks (activities)

What will be the best activities for students to do so that they achieve mastery of the learning outcomes? In other words, what can and should students do to achieve the learning outcomes? Which resources are the best to support students’ learning? The activities and resources should be directly aligned to the learning outcomes, assessments, and context. They should also be based on the points under Articulation.