Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Backward design

About this Illustration of Practice

A grade 4 teacher attempts to find the right balance between allowing her students to follow their own interests in the learning process and in actively directing learning to ensure that learning goals are met within the prescribed time. She describes her approach to planning a unit on 'Forces' in Physical sciences using 'backward design'. Professional learning that she attended with teachers from other Catholic schools in Hobart shaped her approach. In using this learning theory as an aid to lesson planning, she found that she could manage the learning more effectively, and that her students achieved the anticipated learning goals.

Standard 1
Know students and how they learn
Focus area 1.2
Understand how students learn
Career stage
Structure teaching programs using research and collegial advice about how students learn.
Other descriptors
Standard 5
Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
Focus area 5.1
Assess student learning
Career stage
Develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student learning.
  1. At what stage of development do you incorporate the formal curriculum into your unit or lesson planning?
  2. How does an understanding of 'how students learn' shape or affect the ways in which you teach?
  3. In what ways have you recently developed new knowledge, skills and/or understanding relating to an area of teaching and learning?
Dominic College (Primary)
Year level
Year 4
Related subject
Stage of schooling
School type
Non Government
School location
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Dominic College is a Catholic, kindergarten to year 10, co-educational, independent school in Hobart. At the College, the teacher of year 4, responding to the interest of her students in science, participated in professional learning to improve her knowledge and skills. Using the 'backward design' learning theory of Wiggins and McTighe (2005), she analysed the year 4 Australian Science Curriculum, in order to identify appropriate learning standards for her students. Following this, she designed assessment tasks, learning activities and selected appropriate resources to support these.

Content provider
Education Services Australia

© Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), 2012 (except where indicated under acknowledgements). You may use, reproduce and adapt this material for educational purposes until 30 June 2019, provided you retain this notice and all acknowledgements associated with the material.