Universal Design for Learning

UDL guidelines are a framework to assist in the design and delivery of course content. “UDL aims to change the design of the environment rather than to change the learner. When environments are intentionally designed to reduce barriers, all learners can engage in rigorous, meaningful learning.” (from CAST)
At the University of Toronto, which has a diverse student population, we continuously strive to respond to the range of needs and challenges of those students. The National Center on Universal Design for Learning offers a detailed exploration of the three key principles of UDL as well as many different resources and tools.

Multiple Means of Engagement: The Why of Learning #

  • Provide options for self-regulation
    • Promote expectations and beliefs that optimize motivation
    • Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies
    • Develop self-assessment and reflection
  • Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
    • Heighten salience of goals and objectives
    • Vary demands and resources to optimize challenge
    • Foster collaboration and community
    • Increase mastery-oriented feedback
  • Provide options for recruiting interest
    • Optimize individual choice and autonomy
    • Optimize relevance, value, and authenticity
    • Minimize threats and distractions

Multiple Means of Representation: The What of Learning #

  • Provide options for comprehension
    • Activate or supply background knowledge
    • Highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas, and relationships
    • Guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation + Maximize transfer and generalization
  • Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
    • Clarify vocabulary and symbols
    • Clarify syntax and structure
    • Support decoding of text, mathematical notation, and symbols
    • Promote understanding across languages
    • Illustrate through multiple media
  • Provide options for perception
    • Offer ways of customizing the display of information
    • Offer alternatives for auditory information
    • Offer alternatives for visual information

Multiple Means of Action and Expression: The How of Learning #

  • Provide options for executive functions
    • Guide appropriate goal-setting
    • Support planning and strategy development
    • Enhance capacity for monitoring progress
  • Provide options for expression and communication
    • Use multiple media for communication
    • Use multiple tools for construction and composition
    • Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance
  • Provide options for physical action
    • Vary the methods for response and navigation
    • Optimize access to tools and assistive technologies

For a comprehensive exploration of the UDL guidelines, visit the CAST website. Explore the Graphic Organizer to get an understanding of the key features of the UDL guidelines and how they connect to the three large brain networks that comprise the vast majority of the human brain and play a central role in learning, and how they relate to specific strategies that help students become expert learners. Don’t forget to check out the CAST blog – UDL Chat.