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Why Teachers Need to Align Instruction and Assessment, and How

During the pandemic, many teachers may have had to suffer from extreme pressure to keep everything in place. A few of the challenges include:

  • Using new teaching platforms,

  • Engaging many students via online classroom

  • Handling students’ problems without being there.

Therefore, it is necessary for teachers to have a set of trusted pedagogical strategies.

Pedagogical strategies: Backward Design Methodology

The practice of having a set of trusted pedagogical strategies is not personal nor temporary. This can and should be used at all times by both professional and, especially, amateur teachers. Numerous educators do not always understand how instructions are well-affected by assessment. Some even struggle with building a structure for alignment between summative assessment, learning goals, formative assessment, and teaching strategies.

One of the best practices for teachers to build this set of strategies is to implement the backward design methodology from Understanding by Design by Wiggins & McTighe (2005).

Source: Understanding by Design by Wiggins & McTighe (2005)

Before each and every class, teachers should set the objectives of that very lesson for students. Consequently, they should be able to point out the types of assessment needed to determine whether or not the results are achieved. Finally, this is where teachers need to put in an abundance of effort to plan ahead the learning experiences and instruction. Only by doing this can the alignment be maintained.


4 components to align instruction

This is an example of Tool for Mapping and Aligning Instructional Design where the lesson is divided into different periods. In each interval, there are relevant learning objectives, formative assessments and instructional strategies.

  1. Final product(s):

    1. They can be visible and/or tangible products such as presentations, written accounts etc.

    2. For example, teachers can assign a history project whose outcome is to create a report on the changes to Vietnam’s economy in the 20th century.

  2. Learning targets/objectives:

    1. What teachers and students should work together to achieve

    2. For instance, “I can give examples of why the economy of Vietnam in the 20th century experienced a downturn”.

  3. Formative assessment

    1. Teachers need to check students’ understanding of the learning objectives.

    2. Such as quizzes on the challenges in the economic downturn, informal checking questions on what the government did to overcome etc.

  4. Instructional strategies and scaffolds:

Some examples include:

  1. Presentation rehearsal

  2. How to make a report



Wiggins & McTighe (2005), Understanding by Design.


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