Top 10 UDL Tips for Developing Learning Goals

Learning goals are the foundation of any effective curriculum. Only by clarifying what we want learners to accomplish can we begin to consider what assessments, methods, and materials will be most effective. Below are 10 tips developed by CAST Professional Learning that discuss learning goals from a UDL perspective. Click on a tip below to get more information about it.

Female college student sitting at a desk holding a pencil.
Boy raising his hand in the classroom. Out of focus is a male teacher at the front of the class
Three students and a teacher sitting in front of compters.
1. Convey clear goals that everyone can understand.

Standards- and curricular-based goals are often written using language that is difficult to understand and unpack. Rewrite and clarify what you want your learners to achieve.

Ask yourself:

• Do my learners know what the goal means?

• Are my learners able to visualize and/or describe the desired outcome in their own words or in their own ways?

2. Share goals in multiple ways.

Sharing the intended goal in many formats ensures learners continue to know what they are working toward. For example, you may state the goal out loud, have it posted virtually or physically so that everyone has access to it, include it on a handout or printable, or ask learners to record or restate the goal in their own words.

Ask yourself:

• What options do my learners have to perceive the goal?

• Do all of my learners know where to find the goals we’re working toward?

3. Align goals with standards.

Standards articulate what the educational community values and can be flexible enough for teachers to incorporate options for how their students may go about attaining them.

Ask yourself:

• How are my goals connected to the standards or established programs of study?

• Have I ensured the standards will be achievable in my learning environment through the selected assessments, materials, and methods?

• Are my learners aware of the standards and how they connect to the learning experiences?

4. Differentiate outcomes from means.

Separating the goal from the means of attaining the goal allows for flexibility in achieving the goal. It can also help pinpoint assessment issues when measuring goals.

Ask yourself:

• How have I offered flexibility in how my learners can demonstrate mastery of the intended goal? • What barriers are removed by offering some flexibility in the means?

• For means- or process-oriented goals, am I providing flexibility in other areas such as topic choice or choice of assistive tools?

5. Divide large goals into sub-goals or objectives.

Breaking larger, long-term goals into smaller short-term goals can make the process feel obtainable. It also allows opportunities to celebrate milestones in achieving long-term goals.

Ask yourself:

• Are the goals manageable for the time period allocated?

• Have I provided learners with opportunities to create their own milestones in attaining long-term goals?

6. Consider the process as well as the end product.

The process of learning can be just as valuable as the end result, and newer standards like the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards explicitly call out process-oriented goals.

Ask yourself:

• In what ways does my goal encourage focus on the learning skills and processes, as well as the content?

• Do my assessments emphasize process and skill knowledge as well as content knowledge?

7. Provide models and examples of excellence.

Offering examples of what attainment of a goal can “look like” (or “sound like” or “feel like”) gives learners a model of what to work toward.

Ask yourself:

• Are there are opportunities for learners to know what constitutes excellence?

• Have I included models and examples in my rubric for assessment?

8. Prepare your assessment with your goals in mind .

Aligning assessments to your goal or goals ensures that your assessments are measuring what you’ve intended them to measure. Make sure you’re aware of and attempt to eliminate construct-irrelevant elements within your assessments.

Ask yourself:

• Does my assessment align with what I want my students to know?

• What barriers are there in my assessment that may impact students showing what they know?

9. Include opportunities for personal connections to learning goals .

Affective goals, such as developing enthusiasm for learning and an ability to self-regulate, are also important for learners to engage in the learning experience.

Ask yourself:

• In what ways does my goal allow for learners to personally relate and engage to this goal?

• Have I provided opportunities for learners to articulate their own personal learning goals?

10. Make time for reflection.

We’re busy and always have a lot of curricular ground to cover in our learning environments. It’s important to pause and save some time to reflect on our goals and how our learning experiences and assessments have supported our learners in attaining those goals.

Ask yourself:

• Have I given my learners opportunities to reflect on the learning experiences and goals?

• Did I notice any barriers to attaining the goals in my assessments, materials or methods?

• What changes would I make to my goals if I were to do this again?