Document Type

Course Outline / Syllabus

Publication Date



Educational Psychology and Counseling


The purpose of this project is to enhance curriculum planning by integrating backward design principles for a graduate course, ESPE 6662: Methods for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities. Backward design, a curriculum planning approach introduced by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (1998), challenges college professors to begin their planning process by developing goals and outcomes for student learning. Backward design encourages instructors to establish the curriculum outcomes and goals before reviewing instructional materials. Therefore, backward design is an effective way of providing guidance for designing courses. Once the learning outcomes have been identified, the instructor is to develop assessments and instructional activities around the learning outcomes. The backward design approach helps college instructors to establish priorities for learning and avoid using the textbook as the curriculum instead of a resource.

The backward design includes three principles: identifying the desired outcomes, determining acceptable evidence of learning, and developing the learning plan.

  1. Identify Desired Learning Outcomes: The instructor is to reflect on Commission on Teacher Credentialing Standards and curriculum map to identify the key concepts and goals that students should know and be able to perform at the completion of a course. It is also important to identify the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that students are expected to acquire for a course.
  2. Identify Acceptable Evidence: The instructor is to consider what will be acceptable evidence that students have met the goals and objectives. The instructor is to determine what types of assessments will measure when and whether students can perform the desired goals and outcomes.
  3. Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction: The instructor is to develop activities, exercises, assignments, and instructions around the desired learning outcomes and goals.

The outcome of this project is a course syllabus of ESPE 6662: Methods for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities.