Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Understanding by Design (UbD) in EFL Teaching: Teachers' Professional Development and Students' Achievement *

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Understanding by Design (UbD) in EFL Teaching: Teachers' Professional Development and Students' Achievement *

Article excerpt

Professional development is a phenomenon that has a crucial importance for teachers to advance in their career professionally. Apart from their professional lives, it is also important for the acquisition of required knowledge, skills and instructional practices for addressing students' needs (Benedict, 2014; Cooper, 2014; Ingvarson, Meiers, & Beavis, 2005; Lee, 2014). A variety of sources, methods, and tools can be put into practice to sustain teachers' professional development. Understanding by Design (UbD) is among these tools.

UbD can be utilized as a tool both for continuing teachers' professional development (Brown, 2004) and ensuring students' enduring understanding (Wiggins, 2010). The focal point of UbD is to pay attention to all learners and their learning preferences by minimizing learning that happens incidentally or by inborn capacity. While doing this, it is aimed that the instructional priorities are determined and the instruction is conducted by making a good design first. These aims can be used as a tool for both increasing students' academic achievement and sustaining teachers' development throughout all their professional lives (Brown, 2004; Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).

UbD refers to the task of designing a unit plan covering a three-staged template during the teachers' designing process. At the first stage of the template, named desired results, concepts such as transfer, understanding, and acquisition are mentioned. Transfer can be described as students' making use of the knowledge in new learning situations independently. Understanding is the part in which enduring and transferable ideas as well as provocative essential questions are introduced.

At the acquisition part, knowledge and skills that should be achieved at the end of the unit are identified. The key components of the first stage are big idea and essential question. These two components enhance students' seeing the 'big picture' and making inquiries with a sense of wonder throughout the unit in order to reach enduring understandings. The second stage, which is called the evidence, is the stage in which a performance task and some other assessment evidence are mentioned. In the third stage, named learning plan, all the strategies, methods, techniques, and materials are introduced (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998, 2005, 2011).

The fact that implementing UbD in an educational institution enables its instructors to become active members of curriculum development is mentioned in many researches (Andrews, 2011; Baird, 2006; Bertram, 2011; Boehler, 2008; Boozer, 2014; Burson, 2011; Corvo, 2014; Edmunds, 2011; Kelting-Gibson, 2003; Meyer, 2006). Teachers' dealing with designing contributes to the burgeon of professional collaboration and dialogue at school settings (Anwaruddin, 2013). Together with their colleagues, teachers share ideas and make educational decisions in the designing process. Besides, implementing their own design in their lessons encourages the emergence of teachers' designer identity and helps to diminish the routine of textbook coverage (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011).

Another important contribution of UbD is that it facilitates students' learning in a meaningful and enduring way (Anderson, 2012; Duke, 2011; Molina, 2013; Noble, 2011; Schoellhorn, 2012; Stotter, 2004; Takacs, 2010). One of the fundamental problems in EFL teaching is that content coverage becomes a goal rather than being a tool (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011). In fact, the focus of instruction is to lay a sound foundation for the development of learning skills with the help of the content that is presented to the students. As UbD unit designs basically include essential questions and assessment techniques as relevant to enduring understanding, they help students to see the big picture about learning. Furthermore, the integration of different methods and techniques addressing individual differences helps to establish an enjoyable learning atmosphere for students and makes important contributions to the active learning process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007). …

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