Preparing to Teach

Learning Outcomes/Backward Design

With the Backward Design framework, instructors craft course learning outcomes before carefully aligning student assessments with these outcomes. Then they plan learning experiences that prepare students for these outcome-driven assessments. These resources will help you draft learning outcomes and align them with assessments and learning activities.


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What is Backward Design?    

The Course Design Triangle   (Wiley Education Services)

Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verb Examples


* EPIC Resource: Backward Design Alignment Practice Worksheet

The Online Course Mapping Guide   (UC San Diego)

Multimodal Resources


Assessment Strategies

This section considers effective use of assessments to monitor (formative) and evaluate (summative) student learning. Rubrics help ensure equity in the assessment and grading process.

Note: UCLA is currently considering grading alternatives including ungrading, contract grading, and specifications (specs) grading. More information and resources are provided.


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* EPIC Resource:  UCLA Alternative Assessment Approaches 

Formative and Summative Assessments — Recommendations and Examples  (Yale)

Rubric Types   (Cult of Pedagogy) 

Rubrics: Tools for Making Learning Goals and Evaluation Criteria Explicit for Both Teachers and Learners   (Allen & Tanner)

Sample Rubrics   (Carnegie Mellon) 

So Your Instructor is Using Contract Grading  

Sample Grading Contracts   (SUNY Cortland)

Ungrading Resources  (PSU Open CoLab)

Carol Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential – available online 

Susan D. Blum, ed., Ungrading : Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (And What to Do Instead) – available online


* EPIC Resource: Equitable Assessments Activity 

Multimodal Resources

Video: The power of believing that you can improve   (Carol Dweck) 

Video: Specs Grading from a Professor’s Perspective  (Humboldt State University)

Podcast: Dead Ideas in Teaching & Learning Podcast:  Ungrading with Jesse Stommel (Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning)



Explore ways to pivot from a content-focused to a human-focused syllabus as a way to ensure more equitable and inclusive syllabi.



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* EPIC Resource: Sample human-centered syllabus resources

* EPIC Resource:  Sample syllabus accessibility statement

Accessible Syllabus 

Your Syllabus Doesn’t Have to Look Like a Contract   (David Gooblar) 

Student Impressions of Syllabus Design: Engaging Versus Contractual Syllabus 


  • Graphic design platform with a free membership tier that makes design easy with templates, fonts, and stock photos. 

USC Center for Urban Education Syllabus Review


Accessibility Considerations

Accessibility should be considered alongside each step of the course design process and must not be an afterthought.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a flexible pedagogical framework that honors learner variability and promotes accessible instruction and assessment.



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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)   (CAST)

UDL Guidelines Graphic Organizer


* EPIC Resource: Accessibility Game Plan

Week-by-week considerations before and during the quarter for implementing accessibility throughout the course design process.

* EPIC Resource: EPIC’s Accessible Bruin Learn Sandbox

Practice Bruin Learn’s accessibility tools with this sample course sandbox

For access, please send us an email at with your UCLA logon ID.

Multimodal Resources

Podcast:  Think UDL Podcast

Accessibility Glossary


According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights: 

“Accessible means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability. 

Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.”

Access needs:

Anything you require of your community or environment in order to participate fully, healthfully, and meaningfully. Regardless of disability status, we all have access needs. 

Some examples include:


From UCLA’s Center for Accessible Education (CAE): 

“An accommodation is a legally mandated modification or service designed to mitigate the functional limitations associated with a student’s disability. Accommodations can be:

Alt text:

Alternative text—or alt text—describes visuals. Embedded in code, alt text is not visible; screen readers voice this image description aloud to blind and low-vision users. Folks with certain cognitive disabilities also benefit from screen readers.

Alt text is different from a caption, which appears near an image, and from longer image descriptions, which are also visible to sighted people. 

Audio description:

Audio description is spoken narration of visual elements during live performances and pre-recorded television and film.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR):

Optical character recognition is the process by which images of handwritten or printed text is converted into a digital format that allows it to be selected, copied, read aloud by screen readers, and  searched.


Legal definition from the Americans with Disabilities Act: 

Throughout history, disability has been considered:

How do you describe disabled people… or people with disabilities?

Like proper name pronunciation and personal pronouns, it’s best to ask people how they identify instead of making assumptions. Trends change, and there’s no consensus around describing identities. 

Some folks argue for people-first language to prioritize the person over their physical or mental conditions. People-first language tends to reflect a medical model of disability. Examples of people-first language include:

However, other folks argue for identity-first language and consider disability as a cultural identity. Members of the signing Deaf community and autistic people tend to use identity-first language. 

Examples of identity-first language include:

Here at UCLA, the student organization is called the Disabled Student Union (DSU) and not the Students with Disabilities Union.

Here are some additional guidelines to consider:

“Disabled” is not offensive. Use it rather than euphemisms like “differently-abled” or “handi-capable.” 

Use: Disabled or accessible parking space; accessible restroom stall

Not: Handicapped 

Not: Crippled

Use: Deaf and hard of hearing

Not: Hearing-impaired or challenged

Not: deaf and dumb

Not: deaf mute

Not: afflicted by

Not: suffers from

Not: wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair

Talk to the person directly and not to their aid or interpreter

For more, see Identity-First Language by Lydia X. Z. Brown