Planning for Instruction with Understanding by Design

By: Endang Sriwahyuni

Are we aware? Instruction is very important in influencing the understanding of students toward the lesson we teach. If the instruction is clear and appropriate, it provokes students understand better than if the instruction is in contrast. Instruction here is of course instruction in teaching as the effective teacher.

What actually come up in your mind when hearing the word “effective teacher”? Almost of us will answer that effective teacher is teacher who are able to teach in relax, enjoy, and fun so that students can easily understand the material. Unfortunately, we often see the reality that in many schools, sometime teaching and learning run with full of fun but lack of meaning of the material itself. It seems like the learning and teaching design doesn’t have sense of purpose. Wiggins and McTighie (2005) propose in their book about “twin sin” of the traditional design. The first one is “activity-focus”, which means that the learning activities is very interactive and fun for students, but unfortunately not really intellectually meaningful. It usually happens in elementary school and lower middle school. The second one is “coverage” approach where the teaching is done but learning is not. For example the teacher asks students to only learn the textbook page per page to finish material in current time. It usually happens in secondary school and university.

Grant and Wiggin (2005) then introduced a model of designing learning activity which can solve the “twin sins”. It is called Understanding by design. It has 3 stages in designing learning activity, they are:

1. Identify the desired results

Means that teacher firstly have to understand the goal of learning. It is usually based on the curriculum goal, like what must students achieve after the learning.

2. Determine acceptable evidence

Teacher should decide what kind of evidence students must give to represent their understanding.

3. Plan learning experiences and instruction

Base on the point 1 and 2, now the teacher has to compile the kind of activity in the class which engaging and intellectually meaningful for students. it means fun and improve students’ knowledge, skill, and understanding.

Understanding by design can help teacher to provide effective teaching is the class because the stages are very good degreed and systematic. So, in other of using this helping, now teacher have to be accustomed to design the meaningful teaching, like through giving appropriate instruction.


About Endang Sriwahyuni

a long life learner, an educator, a writer, and a dreamer.

Posted on January 5, 2011, in English Teaching (TLL Project). Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hmm it’s a very useful information for us as a prospective “effective teacher” ndang..^O^
    however, the issue is how we help the conservative teacher to start understand what we’ve understand.. bcoz we’ll make a brighter future together with them ryt?

    • Yes, totally right nais… it is hard enough to do spontantly, but step by step order i think is good choise. the technique itself .. hmmm can be through showing implisitly about how fun and meaningful or class to them so make them asking because of interesting to what we do in teaching

  2. hmm , nice information 🙂

    like your statement “teaching and learning run with full of fun but lack of meaning of the material itself”

    but actually we are in learning process to make our teaching full of fun and full of meaning 🙂
    like our lecturer have done 😉

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