UDL: A Systematic Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners

As we move into start of the spring 2017 semester, you are likely making the finishing touches on your syllabi, maybe imagining how your courses are going to go and also looking forward to meeting a new group of students. One question you may find yourself asking is, how do I navigate learner diversity in the classroom? An Inside Higher Ed. article from September 2015 titled, "UDL: A Systematic Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners" offers us a look into the framework of UDL (Universal Design for Learning), with examples set by CAST (Center Applied Special Technology). The article mentions three principles to guide you in teaching by the UDL model.

  1. multiple means of representing content In addition to lectures and readings, visuals and simulations can assist a student's introduction to a concept. Open Education Resources (OERs) are good places to find supporting material such as videos, images, animation and even music to support your course material. CreativeCommons.org(in accordance with licenses) and Internet Archive offer free materials for use in an educational environment.

  2. multiple means of action and expression Role play and case studies allow students to demonstrate their learning through action. They can also learn by being creative, in making videos or designing projects. Alternatives to final papers can be more immediate ways for you to access a students learning as well.

  3. multiple means of engagment in learning Stimulating student interest and curiosity can support their metacognative process. Humor injected into a lecture is given as an example here however designing challenging, authentic learning experiences such as guided inquiry and problem-based learning offers students a chance to problem-solve collaboratively. One of the search tags on our Teaching Blog is inquiry-based learning if you'd like to find out more about this approach.

UDL: A Systematic Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners