• Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

    Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a framework for understanding how to create curricula that meets the needs of all learners from the start. The UDL Guidelines, an articulation of the UDL framework, can assist anyone who plans lessons/units of study or develops curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) to reduce barriers, as well as optimize levels of challenge and support, to meet the needs of all learners from the start. They can also help educators identify the barriers found in existing curricula.

    What are the goals of UDL?

    • To help students master learning itself—in short, to become expert learners. Expert learners have developed three broad characteristics: a) strategic, skillful and goal directed; b) knowledgeable; and c) purposeful and motivated to learn more.
    • To allow teachers to remove potential barriers that could prevent learners from meeting this important goal.

    Why is UDL effective?

    • The frameworks of UDL are based on research from several very different fields of modern research in the learning sciences: cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuroscience identifying the range and sources of variance in human learning – what are the individual differences that an adequate pedagogy must address?
    • By creating options for how instruction is presented, how students express their ideas, and how teachers can engage students in their learning, instruction can be customized and adjusted to meet individual student needs.

    How can teachers use UDL to provide options to meet students’ diverse learning styles?

    • REPRESENTATIONThe "what" of learning.  How do we present information and content in different ways? How do students gather facts and categorize what they see, hear, and read. How are they identifying letters, words, or an author's style?
    • ACTION/EXPRESSIONThe "how" of learning. How do we differentiate the ways that students can express what they know? How do they plan and perform tasks? How do students organize and express their ideas?
    • ENGAGEMENTThe "why" of learning. How does the task stimulate interest and motivation for learning? How do students get engaged? How are they challenged, excited, or interested?

    You can ask your child’s teacher if he or she is using the UDL framework. To learn more about UDL visit www.cast.org.