“It is well known that understanding develops as people try to resolve perplexities or dilemmas that cannot be immediately sorted out. Wrestling with perplexing situations often results in rethinking ideas and creating new and better explanations for how things work.”
James Hiebert and Douglas Grouws (see item #2)

THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT IN UbD is based on the following understanding of how to construct a task called the Transfer Demand Rubric:

Transfer Demand Rubric

In Chapter 3 of Understanding by Design, "Gaining Clarity on Our Goals," Wiggins and McTighe suggest the following rubric to "self-assess and peer review the design of any assessments purporting to involve true application with authentic challenges." This rubric may help wiki users assess their own unit plans as well as those of others and give us all a common framework we can use for discussion.


The task looks unfamiliar, even odd or puzzling, and is presented without cues as to how to approach or solve it. Success depends upon a creative inventory or adaptation of one's knowledge, based on understanding both the content and the situation -- "far transfer." Carefully thinking through what the task does and does not ask and provide is required; identifying that additional problems, not obvious at first, have to be worked through. As a result, the task may seem undoable to some (even though it is likely doable by all if prior learning were effectively tapped). Not all students may succeed, therefore, and some may give up -- even if they appear to have had control over the content previously.


The task may look unfamiliar but is presented with clues or cues meant to suggest the approach or content called for (or to narrow the options considerably). Success depends upon realizing what recent learning applies in this somewhat ambiguous or different scenario -- "near transfer." The main challenge for the learner is to figure out what kind of problem this is, from the information given. Having realized what the task demand, the learner should be able to follow known procedures to follow it. Some learners who seemed skilled and knowledgeable on past tests may not successfully complete the task.


The task is presented with explicit reference to ideas, topics, or tasks previously studied, but no reference is made to the specific rule or formula that applies. Minimal transfer is required. Success requires the student only to recognize and recall which rule applies and use it, based on a familiar problem statement. The only transfer involves dealing with variables, categories, or situational details different from those in the teaching examples; and in realizing which rule applies from a few obvious recent candidates.


The task is presented so that the student need only follow directions and use recall and logic to complete it. No transfer is required, only the plugging in of a technique or content related to just-completed learning or examples.

Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. "Gaining Clarity on Our Goals." Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2005, 79-80.