The Backwards Design model is one of my favorite Instructional Design models. Perhaps I like it so much because it is similar to the Dick and Carey Model of Instructional Design, the first instructional design model I learned. Perhaps it resonates with me because of my training as a Quality Matters reviewer; quality matters reviewers are taught the importance of beginning with measurable objectives and aligning all other course components to those objectives. The Backwards Design model starts with determining what learners should be able to do at the end of a unit of instruction. Next, assessments and performance tasks are developed, and finally, instructional material and learning activities are designed and developed to help learners achieve the stated ends, aka learning objectives or learning outcomes.
Urban legend has it that a popular qualifying exam question for the Instructional Design and Development doctoral track student at the University I attend used to be, “Name a person, living or dead, who would make a good instructional designer and why?” I was a first year instructional design student when I heard the story of that question. I immediately thought, Stephen Covey would make a good instructional designer because of one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 2 of Covey’s list is Begin with the End in Mind. The point is to think of your future self then bring all decisions and actions into alignment with that vision of your future self. It is like Backwards Design; the model begins with a vision of what learners should be doing at the end of instruction then performance tasks, assessments, instructional materials and learning activities are designed and developed to align with that vision of the learner at the end of instruction. Begin with the end in mind, in instruction and in life.