14 April 2024

Refine and support goal setting

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Planning using UDL in primary settings’

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Purposeful goals

Purposeful goals

Students at Halswell School share their experience of goal setting and monitoring their own progress.

Share goals in multiple ways

Share goals in multiple ways

Students perceive and make sense of infomation differently.

Present goals in multiple ways to support everyone's understanding.

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Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Support planning and action

Support planning and action

Students need consistent, small, and meaningful reminders to help them set goals, organise and make a plan.

Suggestions for supporting goal setting and self monitoring

  • Provide models or examples of the process.
  • Teach students how to plan.
  • Provide guides and checklists for scaffolding goal-setting.
  • Post goals, objectives, and schedules in an obvious place.
  • Involve students in creating what the outcome might look like.
  • Break the process up into small steps with visual, video, and verbal supports. 
  • Offer problem solving checklists.

Explore more practical suggestions on Goalbook Toolkit.

Source: Design and deliver (opens in a new tab/window)

Check for hidden barriers

Check for hidden barriers

Barriers to achivement can be hidden in the way we communicate goals or learning intentions.

Example of an assignment:

Students will be able to write a report about how ways to increase birdlife at school.

This is two tasks in one: write a report and demonstrate understanding about birdlife in the local area.

When setting goals (intentions):

  • identify the purpose and make explicit will be assessed
  • check for hidden barriers to achievement
  • if possible offer students flexible ways to demonstrate understanding
  • if a skill such as “write” is included in the goal, ensure supports such as text-to-speech, graphic organisers, word prediction are offered to all students.

Source: Adapted from Goal-based design and the BC curriculum (opens in a new tab/window)

Reflection questions

Reflection questions

Consider these questions for your own context.

  • How do I present learning goals and objectives in varied and flexible ways to support engagement and understanding?
  • How do I ensure students understand the purpose AND value of an activity?
  • How do I make sure students don’t confuse the goal with the means of achieving it?
  • How do I offer varied and flexible pathways to success?

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL curriculum self-check (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources


Top 10 UDL tips for developing learning goals

A downloadable PDF from CAST with ten tips about learning goals from a UDL perspective

Publisher: CAST

Download PDF

Next steps

Return to the guide “Universal Design for Learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Universal Design for Learning

Strategies for action: