Planning backwards

So, spending time describing what you are trying to accomplish, in sufficient detail so that you can get feedback on how things are going, is a key step in thinking differently about assessment. In fact, the question, “What would it look like if we succeeded?” discussed regularly with your colleagues is at the core of improving performance.

Planning backwards from “what would it look like if we succeeded?” forces you to be clear about missions and goals, standards and criteria. Things constantly come up that demand our time and energy, and we need to have some way of saying, “This is what we have decided is important. This is what we have decided to do, and this is what we have decided not to do, however worthy that activity might be.”

Say you wanted to build a green building, how would you know if you have succeeded? The US Green Building Council created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) scale to answer that very question. Click here to see a tiny sample of some of one of the categories on the detailed LEED project list. For example: you get points if you use local or regional materials because of the energy use required by transporting materials long distance that most people do not account for. In absence of someone raising this priority, what criteria would you normally use to select flooring materials? Price. However, if you are planning backwards from trying to achieve a LEED standard, purchasing the slightly more expensive product from Pennsylvania instead of the cheaper product from British Columbia makes more sense. The decision can only be made by PLANNING BACKWARDS.

So we have an important concept here, but now we need a tool for planning backwards.

For non-linear browsing of the online Assessment Workshop click on the links below:

How To Navigate This Workshop

You may choose to go through this workshop in a linear, page by page fashion, by clicking on the "Next" and "Previous" buttons at the bottom of each step.

If you want to browse through the steps, jump around, or need to go back a few steps, use the "non-linear" menu of steps at the bottom of each page.

If you are familiar with this workshop, and you are looking to refresh your memory, we think the following steps about the Rubric, which is the tool at the heart of this workshop, might be most useful to you: