The most under asked question today in education is: "What" is the goal? "Why" is a close second. As defined by our good friends at "ask Google" a goal is defined as: "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." When considering learning goals through the implementation of Universal Design for Learning it is important to note that "following a plan that is based on an outcome - rather than one that is more concerned with the precise steps necessary to reach that outcome - is the surest way to preserve the outcome when external conditions change" (Rose & Meyer p. 88). When designing learning goals, there are 4 important questions to ask:
1) Is the Goal Clearly Developed?
A clearly developed goal is one that reflects the content/skill(s) of the learning standard. The means (the way in which the goal will be achieved) are not embedded in the goal. Finally the learning outcome is clear and specific.
2) Is the Goal Displayed and Accessible?
A goal developed with Universal Design for Learning in mind at its core must be accessible. The goal needs to be clearly communicated. Students need options for understanding the goal. The goal needs to support appropriate challenge and support.
3) Does the Goal Provide Options for Content/Skill Comprehension and Acquisition?
While the desired outcome for learning is certainly content knowledge and/or skill acquisition, when attending to the executive functioning of the brain it is important to remember the brain is goal directed. Therefore, well designed goals foster: learning how to learn, enable progress monitoring, and empowers understanding and meaning of the content/skill.
4) Why is "it" (the goal) important?
One could argue this should be first. I would argue it should not be forgotten. Regardless of when you intentionally attend to the why it needs to be noted that students who understand the goal of their ... (you can fill in the blank) "are more likely to stay focused, monitor themselves successfully, and derive satisfaction from their progress" (Rose & Meyer p. 88).
Rose, H. D., Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age Universal Design for Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.