The participants in YouthBuild programs have dropped out of traditional secondary education for many reasons, but often it is because the traditional educational setting was not effective in addressing their instructional needs and learning styles.  YouthBuild plays a vital role in assisting our youth in improving basic academic skills, attaining a high school diploma or high school equivalency credential, and becoming ready to work.  

YouthBuild plays a vital role in assisting our youth in improving basic academic skills,  attaining a high school diploma orhigh school equivalency credential, and becoming ready to work.  A successful educational environment requires teachers and trainers who can readily adapt to meeting the needs of these diverse and often reluctant learners. It is crucial to actively engage the youth by employing a variety of instructional strategies and designs that address multiple intelligences, cognitive styles, and learning modalities.  YouthBuild programs are always seeking to adopt teaching strategies that are engaging, relevant, and lead to positive outcomes for YouthBuild learners with complex needs.

COVID-19 has added a new challenge to YouthBuild programs – the necessity to move from traditional classroom and work site environments to a hybrid of in-person and virtual sessions or even fully virtual e-learning with participants. Instructional Design (ID) is a tool that can help to make virtual learning more engaging and effective.  ID considers  how students learn and what materials and methods will most effectively help them  achieve their academic goals.  ID principles consider how educational tools should be designed, created, and delivered to any learning group.  


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Problem-Based Learning are two ID strategies that have been used by YouthBuild programs with the goal of engaging and empowering learners to  successfully attain academic credentials.UDL  is “a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” (Lieberman, Lauren, J., The Need for Universal Design for Learning, Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 88 (3): 5-7, March 2017). Presenting the content in a variety of ways provides flexibility and equal opportunity in how learners access the curriculum and demonstrate their understanding. PB Lpresents  learners  with real-world problems and gives  open-ended questions with many possible solutions,  which provides  authentic application of content and skills. 


While the majority of  education and training is occurring virtually, it is even more important to think about how to engage learners that have attention deficits or low academic engagement, in order to create a more active and diverse online learning environment. To assist these efforts, a webcast, available on the YouthBuild Community of Practice in September, is being developed to provide a simple introduction to ID and explore a specific form of ID that lends itself to in-person or virtual learning settings and can be taught by any staff member, whether teacher or trainer.  This webcast will highlight Robert Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction, a form of ID that translates easily between in-person and virtual learning settings.


Stay tuned for further announcements once this webcast is available.


Related Resources

Principles of Instructional Design, 5th Edition by Robert Gagne