Designing Teaching for Understanding

A WebQuest for College, Adult
Teacher Preparation

Designed by Su Tuan Lulee

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page | Assignment Home


Traditionally, education is about educating for the known. It is about what we knew, but, today, education is more about unknown, about how to deal with things that we have never met before. People have to learn and re-learn and learn beyond what they have known. Understanding becomes the most important issue in education. (David Perkins, 2006) With understanding, people can transfer knowledge from known to unknown; with understanding, people can grasp essential idea within limited of time and leverage the idea to unknown whenever necessary.

To advocate the framework of Teaching for Understanding, Great Teaching association hosts a competition to select exemplary course design so that teachers would know what meaningful teaching and learning looks like.


Great Teaching competition has come to the final round. Four winning courses have been selected. Your teams, as members of jury, need to examine the selected courses, make individual decision and debate, base on criteria set by competition committee, on an hearing opened to all competitors.


You will be working together in a small group of 3 students. Each student will take on one of the roles: the instructor, the administrator, and the TfU expert.

Main Concerns
The Instructor You value learning outcome therefore you believe a good WQ design should include appropriate assessments. You believe students will learn best in a collaboration teamwork that requires investigation and discussion.
The Administrator You value time and cost a great deal. In most of the case, teachers should leverage existed equipments and facilities. You always look for public standards of the discipline in an instructional design. You want a course design to be reusable of every educator.
The TfU Expert You value four elements of TfU framework. You always want to know how well the instructional design aligns with TfU framework.


Here are the sites you’ll be analyzing:

  1. The Colonial Biography (History)

  2. Community Holiday Card (Desktop Publishing)

  3. Dynamic Earth (Science)

  4. Filling Empty Pockets: Borrowing, Loans, and Credit (Finance)

When team member has examined all the sites, you will want to get together, answer above listed questions, and poll. Pay attention to and respect others perspectives. During your discussion, you shall always look for the guide of TfU frameworks and key concepts. One of the team members shall record and summarize the group’s thoughts. When it is time for the open hearing, debrief the conclusion of your team and be sure to demonstrate it with supportive reasoning.

stepStep 1: Preparing yourself with knowledge

Review theory of Teaching for Understanding (TfU) pedagogy.


  1. Teaching for Understanding Overview
  1. What’s the Teaching for Understanding Framework

  2. Teaching for Understanding Guide

stepStep 2: Investigating the sites

Work individually to visit, collect data, and examine every site according to the role you play. Use the worksheet to record your observation and opinions from the perspective of your role.

stepStep 3: Taking individual stand

Ranking the sites and make your selection.

stepStep 4: Taking group stand

Communicate with other team members. Go through each item in the worksheet. Pay attention to theories in step 1 and always take them as the guidelines for your decision. Shall there be disagreement between members, use civil disagreement methods to response, feedback, and compromise to each other. Do not simply poll and announce a winner. The purpose of this WebQuest is not to choose a winner.

The Art of Civil Disagreement Online

stepStep 5: Demonstrating your judgment

Your final responsibility will be to submit your group selection with supportive reasoning. You will want to create an effective group presentation with PowerPoint.

Creating an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

evaluation Evaluation

You will be evaluated with the rubric by other teams as well as the instructor:







Make Judgment Based on TfU Theory

The team clearly understood TfU framework in-depth and make their judgment strictly based on the theory.

The team clearly understood TfU framework in-depth and make most of their judgment based on the theory.

The team seemed to understand the main points of TfU framework and use it to make judgment with ease.

The team did not show an adequate understanding of the TfU framework.


Use of Worksheet

Every major item in the worksheet was well recorded with several relevant facts, statistics and/or examples.

Every major item in the worksheet was adequately recorded with relevant facts, statistics and/or examples.

Every major item in the worksheet was recorded with facts, statistics and/or examples, but the relevance of some was questionable.

Many major items in the worksheet were not recorded.


Teamwork & Communication

Team members act very well in playing assigned roles; perform very good teamwork; and all counter-arguments were accurate, relevant and strong.

Team members act well in playing assigned roles; perform nicely in teamwork; and most counter-arguments were accurate, relevant, and strong.

Team members play their assigned roles properly; mostly, do not work as a team; and most counter-arguments were accurate and relevant, but several were weak.

Team members work individually; ignore their assigned roles; and counter-arguments were not accurate and/or relevant


Final Presentation

All arguments were clearly tied to TfU framework and organized in a tight, logical fashion.

Most arguments were clearly tied to TfU framework and organized in a tight, logical fashion.

All arguments were clearly tied to TfU framework but the organization was sometimes not clear or logical.

Most arguments were not clearly tied to TfU framework.


You will also evaluate your team members for their contribution to the teamwork.


This WebQuest will provide you with a deeper understanding on Teaching for Understanding pedagogy. If you have never applied TfU in your teaching, try it after this WebQuest! If you have tried it before but it turned out to be not so satisfactory, tried a little harder next time! Participate in professional community, interact with other educators who believe in the importance of teaching with understanding. Maybe next year the winner of Great Teaching Competition will be yours!

referenceCredits & References

Perkins, D. (2006) Teaching for Understanding program, WIDE, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Images download on August 6, 2007 from with the permission of 928 Computer Co., Ltd.

Last updated on August 4, 2007. Based on a template from
The WebQuest Page
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