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Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Tips

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to teaching that works to create equal opportunities for all learners. UDL guidelines, developed by education nonprofit CAST, identify three key principles: engagement, representation, and action and expression.

  • Engagement (The Why):

    Learners differ in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn.

    • Access—Recruiting Interest: Encourage learners to take charge of their own learning, make experiences personal or meaningful, and minimize distractions.
    • Build—Sustaining Effort & Persistence: Establish why goals and objectives are important, encourage community, provide scaffolding, and use flexible tools and supports.
    • Internalize—Self Regulation: Inspire ownership and confidence, share coping strategies, and use reflection to increase awareness of progress and to learn from mistakes.
    • Examples
  • Representation (The What):

    Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them.

    • Access—Perception: Display content in multiple ways.
    • Build—Language and Symbols: Clarify vocabulary, structure, symbols, and syntax.
    • Internalize—Comprehension: Build on prior knowledge, highlight patterns, and guide information through processing and visualization.
    • Examples
  • Action and Expression (The How):

    Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know.

    • Access—Physical Action: Provide accessible environments and promote access to tools and assistive technology.
    • Build—Expression and Communication: Provide choices and flexibility in how individuals express their learning, use multiple tools for construction and composition, and use scaffolding to support independent learning.
    • Internalize—Executive Functions: Support learners in setting goals, determining ways to achieve them, using appropriate tools to manage and support goal achievement, and monitoring progress.
    • Examples

Visit the Universal Design for Learning Resources on the VALRC website for more information.