Preparing to Teach
Learning Outcomes/Backward Design
With the Backward Design framework, instructors craft course learning outcomes before carefully aligning student assessments with these outcomes. Then they plan learning experiences that prepare students for these outcome-driven assessments. These resources will help you draft learning outcomes and align them with assessments and learning activities.
Chapter 1 from Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design.
The Course Design Triangle (Wiley Education Services)
Learning outcomes, assessments, and instructional activities are the three points that comprise the course design triangle. Find helpful resources for each component here.
Verbs to help you write precise, scaffolded learning outcomes.
Backwards Podcast transcript (featuring Jay McTighe)
Video: Alignment and Backward Design (Maryann Nestor)
Video: Backward Design Process (Cindy Underhill)
This section considers effective use of assessments to monitor (formative) and evaluate (summative) student learning. Rubrics help ensure equity in the assessment and grading process.
Note: UCLA is currently considering grading alternatives including ungrading, contract grading, and specifications (specs) grading. More information and resources are provided.
* EPIC Resource: UCLA Alternative Assessment Approaches
Rubric Types (Cult of Pedagogy)
Examples of holistic, analytic, and single-point rubrics.
Sample Rubrics (Carnegie Mellon)
Rubrics for papers, projects, presentations, and participation.
An explanation of contract grading for students
Sample Grading Contracts (SUNY Cortland)
Ungrading Resources (PSU Open CoLab)
Carol Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential – available online
Fostering a growth mindset in the classroom can improve student resolve.
Susan D. Blum, ed., Ungrading : Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (And What to Do Instead) – available online
Video: The power of believing that you can improve (Carol Dweck)
Video: Specs Grading from a Professor’s Perspective (Humboldt State University)
Podcast: Dead Ideas in Teaching & Learning Podcast: Ungrading with Jesse Stommel (Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning)
Explore ways to pivot from a content-focused to a human-focused syllabus as a way to ensure more equitable and inclusive syllabi.
* EPIC Resource: Sample human-centered syllabus resources
Syllabus resources that affirm students’ identities and needs.
* EPIC Resource: Sample syllabus accessibility statement
Unlike an accommodations statement, an accessibility statement welcomes all students–regardless of disability status–to advocate for their access needs.
Accessible images, text, rhetoric, and policies.
Your Syllabus Doesn’t Have to Look Like a Contract (David Gooblar)
- Graphic design platform with a free membership tier that makes design easy with templates, fonts, and stock photos.
Comprehensive review tool for considering equity-minded syllabus design.
Accessibility should be considered alongside each step of the course design process and must not be an afterthought.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a flexible pedagogical framework that honors learner variability and promotes accessible instruction and assessment.
* EPIC Resource: Accessibility Game Plan
Week-by-week considerations before and during the quarter for implementing accessibility throughout the course design process.
* EPIC Resource: EPIC’s Accessible Bruin Learn Sandbox
Practice Bruin Learn’s accessibility tools with this sample course sandbox
For access, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your UCLA logon ID.
Podcast: Think UDL Podcast
Transcripts for all episodes available
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights:
“Accessible means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability.
Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.”
Anything you require of your community or environment in order to participate fully, healthfully, and meaningfully. Regardless of disability status, we all have access needs.
Some examples include:
Patience while learning names and faces
Frequent stretching or snacking breaks
Time to process before responding
Visual descriptions that don’t only rely on color
Distance from scented products or certain foods (e.g. tree nuts)
From UCLA’s Center for Accessible Education (CAE):
“An accommodation is a legally mandated modification or service designed to mitigate the functional limitations associated with a student’s disability. Accommodations can be:
Changes to a classroom environment or task that permit a student with a disability to participate in the educational process,
Reasonable modifications to policies, practices or procedures, etc.”
Alternative text—or alt text—describes visuals. Embedded in code, alt text is not visible; screen readers voice this image description aloud to blind and low-vision users. Folks with certain cognitive disabilities also benefit from screen readers.
Alt text is different from a caption, which appears near an image, and from longer image descriptions, which are also visible to sighted people.
Audio description is spoken narration of visual elements during live performances and pre-recorded television and film.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR):
Optical character recognition is the process by which images of handwritten or printed text is converted into a digital format that allows it to be selected, copied, read aloud by screen readers, and searched.
Legal definition from the Americans with Disabilities Act:
“a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.”
Throughout history, disability has been considered:
A crime (learn about the “ugly laws”)
A divine intervention
A cultural identity
How do you describe disabled people… or people with disabilities?
Like proper name pronunciation and personal pronouns, it’s best to ask people how they identify instead of making assumptions. Trends change, and there’s no consensus around describing identities.
Some folks argue for people-first language to prioritize the person over their physical or mental conditions. People-first language tends to reflect a medical model of disability. Examples of people-first language include:
“People with disabilities”
“Individual who is blind”
“Student with autism”
However, other folks argue for identity-first language and consider disability as a cultural identity. Members of the signing Deaf community and autistic people tend to use identity-first language.
Examples of identity-first language include:
Here at UCLA, the student organization is called the Disabled Student Union (DSU) and not the Students with Disabilities Union.
Here are some additional guidelines to consider:
“Disabled” is not offensive. Use it rather than euphemisms like “differently-abled” or “handi-capable.”
Use: Disabled or accessible parking space; accessible restroom stall
Use: Deaf and hard of hearing
Not: Hearing-impaired or challenged
Not: deaf and dumb
Not: deaf mute
Not: afflicted by
Not: suffers from
Not: wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair
Talk to the person directly and not to their aid or interpreter
For more, see Identity-First Language by Lydia X. Z. Brown