Understanding by Design identifies six behaviors as the six facets of a better understanding

Understanding by Design identifies six behaviors as the six facets of a better understandingand calls for students to actively explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess.[1] The six facets allow for a holistic approach to diversity in people and equalize opportunities for subjective as well as objective learners.

Three results of a better understanding are that students have a longer retention of the material, can adapt and apply the material profitably in changing situations to solve problems and are more empathetic human beings.[2]

            The six facets can be organized into a two column matrix of three balancing pairs. The pairs promote balanced learning and cooperate developmentally as the student learns. Explanation and Interpretation lead to Perspective and Empathy, which in turn lead to Application and Self Knowledge.[3] Explanation, Perspective and Application can be characterized as rational, objective and “left brain.” Interpretation, Empathy and Self-Knowledge can be characterized as more creative, imaginative, emotional, subjective and “right brain.”

            Wiggins and McTighe point out the key importance in learning of the less cognitive facets of perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge, which “often play a key role in revealing insight or its absence.”[4] The diffusion of innovations also perceives the necessary importance of storytelling, empathy and self-knowledge in planned change; changed lives require changed hearts, and these facets have the requisite emotional impact. A better understanding will form emotions as well as inform the intellect.





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design, 3, 44-62.

[2]Ibid., 38-43.

[3]Ibid., 170-171.

[4]Ibid., 82.

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