What is Universal Design for Learning?
Curriculums designed with the Universal Design for Learning Framework have learning supports built into the curriculum for any student to use, reducing potential learning barriers for all students. The “universal” in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) does not mean one perfect solution for everyone, but rather an inherently flexible, customizable content, assignments, activities, and assessments CITE Rose and Meyer (2002)
What are the Principles of Universal Design for Learning?
Provide Multiple Means of Representation
Representing information using a variety of supports, instructional tools, methods, and modalities helps ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn from the content presented. For example, consider a lesson that relies solely on reading a textbook and a class lecture. Although this approach is adequate for some students, students for whom English is not their first language or students who have a reading disability may have difficulty extracting meaning. These students might benefit from information paired with descriptive images or videos, or with software that reads the text aloud. When presenting new information in multiple ways, educators can activate students’ background knowledge, highlight the main ideas in a lesson, and provide language and vocabulary support as needed.
Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
Designing instruction that includes multiple options for supporting active learning and a choice of materials or modalities for expressing knowledge helps ensure that all students can effectively apply and share their learning. Students learn best when new, complex tasks are scaffolded. Providing students with a variety of approaches to organize and remember information so they can become strategic in their learning is critical. For example, some students learn to apply information best through checklists, and others are more successful using mnemonics or a template.
Providing a variety of options for learners to share their thinking is another critical component to this pillar of UDL instructional design. Some students may be able to express themselves best in writing, and others perform best creating multimedia presentations, and still others excel at oral presentations.
Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
Providing instruction that encourages active participation and exploration and includes options for choice, challenge, relevance, and novelty ensures that all students can engage in the content and maintain their motivation to learn. Every student comes to the learning opportunity with different interests, backgrounds, and preference for things like challenge and novelty. Some students are motivated by tasks that encourage creative thinking, and others prefer tasks that are predictable and routine. Some students are highly engaged by tasks in which they can compete with their peers, yet others become disengaged by competition and prefer tasks that are independent or cooperative.
Introduction to UDL Module