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Universal Design for Learning Guide for Albright Faculty

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a method of instructional design that fosters student engagement while promoting flexible learning environments. Courses designed with UDL principles are inclusive and provide greater engagement opportunities for students who learn differently. The use of UDL in courses will minimize barriers and therefore the need for many individual and mid-semester accommodations. The UDL method/framework has to potential to improve learning outcomes for all students.

Learn how UDL can help diverse learners in higher education settings in this 2 minute video from UDL on Campus.

The Principles

There are three main principles of the UDL framework:

  1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation
    • For example: repeated exposure to course material (e.g., slides presented with verbal reinforcement and online version for later reference)
  1. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
    • For example: flexibility or choice in evaluation methods
  1. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
    • For example: use of listserves, discussion boards, email, social networking sites, or other communication tools to keep students informed

Learn more about the UDL principles via this graphic and video explanation

Source: CAST (2008). Universal design for learning guidelines version 1.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

Source: National Center on Universal Design for Learning

Using UDL To Address Challenges

UDL on Campus provides examples of professors implementing UDL in Education, Music, Construction Management, and Criminal Justice courses.

UDL Syllabus

UDL on Campus provides helpful examples of a UDL Syllabus. Faculty members interested in implementing UDL area also encouraged to contact the Disability Services office for assistance with implementing UDL in their course.

Implementing UDL

UDL provides a broad framework for designing or re-invigorating courses. A recent survey of Albright faculty revealed that most faculty are already implementing aspects of the representation and engagement principles. However, there are opportunities incorporate the principle of expression into more Albright courses.

graphicLoui Lord Nelson suggests a process for getting started.

  • Reflect on the needs of your students. "What are my students struggling with?"
  • Identify a principle or checkpoint that addresses that need. “How might I use this checkpoint to meet the needs of my learners?”
  • Investigate and create new methods or strategies. “What brings this principle or checkpoint to life?”
  • Teach a lesson using the new method or strategy. “What does this principle or checkpoint look like in my teaching environment?”
  • Assess the new method or strategy. “In what ways did my students demonstrate knowledge or skills?”
  • Reflect on how the new method or strategy worked. “How did the principle or checkpoint enhance my students’ outcomes?”

Source: Nelson, L. L. (2014) Design and deliver: Planning and teaching using universal design for learning.

In this podcast, Mark Hofer shares how he implemented UDL. Mark Hofer is a Professor of Education and Co-Director for the Center for Innovation in Learning Design at the College of William & Mary.

Basic Strategies

  • Design exams so there is additional time (25-50%) already built in for those who may need it
  • Provide clear expectations for attendance (state policy in syllabus), exams, papers, and projects in both a written and verbal format
  • Ask the textbook publisher if the book you are considering is available in an audio-accessible format
  • Provide other course material in an audio accessible format, such as a word document or an accessible pdf 
  • Consider a flipped classroom
  • Make lecture notes and/or PowerPoint slides available to all students or allow students to audio record lectures. This will give them an opportunity to check their notes for missing information
  • Post reminders via moodle, email, other course related sites, or on the board
  • Utilize a variety of instructional methods, such as discussions and group activities
  • Provide feedback which encourages students to reflect and improve

Additional Resources