Our design model makes sense to educators because it integrates current learning theory and practice into a practical model that brings together critical elements of performance-based design. In line with strategic planning, the WIDS Model guides teachers and designers to design from the inside out. In other words, what they intend to achieve drives how they approach the task.
The model infuses broad, transferable skills called core abilities (skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking) into occupational and discipline-specific instruction. Flexibility within the model makes it adaptable to varied instructional intents and missions – both academic and technical.
Emphasizing results, the WIDS model recognizes three performance levels. The broadest level incorporates exit learning outcomes, such as program outcomes, general education outcomes, and core abilities – skills all successful individuals need regardless of occupation or life roles. At the next level, competencies describe major discipline or occupationally specific skills. Each competency is clarified by performance standards specifying criteria and conditions for assessment. Learning objectives are the enabling instructional outcomes. They describe the lower level, supporting knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to master a given competency.
WIDS offers a model for strategic planning of learning. After setting learning goals—"what"; establishing criteria for determining "when"; teachers or designers plan strategies for—"how". These questions serve as a guide through a logical process which leads to effective teaching and learning.
From the learner’s point of view, however, learning moves from the outside in. The learners begin with the "how" and aim for the "what" like a target. The WIDS Model requires teachers to provide learners with precise information about performance expectations at the beginning of a learning experience. As a result, learners set out with a clear vision of the requirements for successful completion.