5 steps to universally-designed instruction

By Laura Devaney
September 28th, 2015

White paper addresses instructional design process to make learning rigorous, accessible for all learners

learning-instructionGoalbook has published a white paper, Different Paths Up the Same Mountain, which outlines a 5-step instructional design process for educators to apply in the classroom.

The new state and Common Core standards were intended to prepare all students to be college and career ready in the 21st century. This transition has occurred as general education classrooms have increased in diversity, including students with special needs and English Language Learners.

Diversity and variability is the norm–not the exception–in the U.S. K-12 classroom. School and district leaders across the country are adapting their instructional approach to address the diversity of learners present in classrooms.

In order to design instruction that engages and supports all students, educators can consider five steps:

1. Select a key learning standard
2. Determine the core purpose
3. Develop a clear instructional objective
4. Identify potential barriers
5. Design targeted strategies

Rob Neu, Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, states, “At Oklahoma City Public Schools, we are committed to providing our diverse student population a wide range of opportunities for learning and experiences that prepare them well for the future. Increasing academic rigor is a central pillar of our district strategic plan.”

Neu observed, “Goalbook’s white paper articulates a clear approach for how educators can design instruction that provides access to high levels of learning for all students.”

Research organizations such as the National Center on Universal Design for Learning have emphasized the importance of acknowledging learner variability: the idea that there is no such thing as the “average student.” Different Paths Up the Same Mountain presents actionable steps for educators to incorporate best practices from pedagogical research into instructional design.

“Instructional practice is the key to student success. Our 5-Step Instructional Design Process unifies two important frameworks for educators, standards-based instruction and Universal Design for Learning,” states Daniel Jhin Yoo, Founder of Goalbook and author of the white paper.

Yoo said, “Every student can learn – planning instruction for a diverse group of students doesn’t require multiple lesson plans – instead, it’s about offering students multiple pathways for success. We help teachers make this instructional approach easier to apply.”

The full publication is available for download at

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Devaney is the Director of News for eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura