Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

What is UDL?

UDL is an educational framework based on cognitive neuroscience research that centers around the awareness that every learner is unique and that a syllabus is either abled or disabled — not the student.

What are the UDL guidelines?

UDL's academic structure encompasses three primary principles:

  1. Engagement – This UDL principle activates the "why" of learning.

Under the engagement principle, educators examine the meaning behind motivation, encouraging students to internalize their interests and educate themselves on what inspires them to learn.

  1. Representation – This UDL principle activates the "what" of learning.

Under the representation principle, educators ensure that they present their lessons in various ways, representing multiple people and perspectives.

  1. Action and Expression – This UDL principle activates the "how" of learning.

Educators provide pupils multiple means to demonstrate their knowledge under the action and expression principle — whether it be via a comic strip, essay, movie, or song.

What are some of the benefits of UDL?

  • Universal Design for Learning authentically honors student diversity.
    • UDL includes all learners ranging in various factors, including age, educational experience, ethnicity, gender, learning disabilities, motivation, race, socio-economic background, and more.
  • Universal Design for Learning helps to provide individualized instruction.
    • Through Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT), UDL instructors become data collectors of their classrooms through everyday conversations with students. As a result, educators can point out each pupil's specific potential — providing clear-cut expectations, self-help strategies, and detailing what each student is doing well and why.
  • Universal Design for Learning guides original, interactive curriculum.
    • Under UDL, lessons can be taught verbally or visually or through formal or informal discussions. Students may also work independently, paired, or in small or large groups. Under the UDL framework, technology is also used to teach utilizing SMART boards and cell phones in class.

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