What is backwards design?

When devising your curriculum, you need to start out by thinking about goals, outcomes, and assessment. What do you want students to achieve by the end of the course? How will you know if they have achieved it? Once you are clear about these things, you can start to work on the teaching and learning objectives that will guide classroom learning. Often, curriculum design starts at the wrong end, with lists of items to be learned and teaching and learning activities, with little thought at the outset about overall outcomes or assessment. By using backwards design, you prioritize student learning outcomes and let them be your guide in assessment, objectives, materials, and teaching and learning activities.