When applying the principles of UDL to your teaching, start with small steps and select a specific challenge or issue (is there anything in your course that students seem to have particular difficulty with?).
- Small changes first: You don't need to start with sweeping changes all at once; think about each lesson or topic and make small changes.
- Work backwards: Start with tight learning goals for your students and then provide multiple ways for them to access content materials.
- Students as partners: Encourage students to help drive the UDL changes to improve their learning.
- Flexible assessments: Think about how each of your course’s assessments can be influenced by the guidelines, provide multiple ways to access the information, multiple ways that students can demonstrate their understanding and multiple ways to engage with the curriculum.
- Communities of practice: Enlist the help of colleagues, talk with each other about your experiences implementing UDL.
Source: CAST, 2019
UDL – quick review
This checklist can be used as a quick assessment to show you what you are already doing and areas that need improvement.
In your course…
Are ideas and information are represented in multiple ways?
- Your course outline clearly describes the content and your expectations of the students.
- You present information in multiple formats (e.g., lecture, text, graphics, audio, video, hands-on exercises).
- You begin each lecture with an outline of what will be covered.
- You summarise key points throughout the lecture, and tie these points to the larger course objectives.
- You post electronic equivalents of paper handouts and required reading assignments in alternative formats such as audio and video.
- You employ technologies (e.g., iClickers, RamCT) that enhance learning.
Can students express their comprehension in multiple ways?
- You encourage students to demonstrate knowledge and skills in ways other than traditional tests and exams (e.g., written essays, projects, portfolios, journals).
- Your assessments measure students’ achievement of the learning objectives, as they are stated on the syllabus.
- You incorporate technologies that facilitate class communication and participation.
- You allow assignments to be submitted electronically.
Do students have multiple opportunities for engagement?
- You express enthusiasm for each topic you teach and explain its real-world significance.
- You challenge students with meaningful assignments.
- You create a class climate in which student diversity is respected.
- You give prompt and instructive feedback on assignments.
- You supplement lecture and reading assignments with visual aids (e.g., photographs, videos, diagrams, interactive simulations).
- You make yourself available to students during office hours in flexible formats (e.g., face-to-face, email, online chat, telephone).
If you answered YES to most or all of these questions, congratulations! You are reaching more students through the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Source: ACCESS, 2010
UDL – reflection
When improving your course planning and delivery to align with UDL principles, aim for incremental improvement by asking yourself the following questions before and after teaching. Repeat the reflective cycle often for maximum impact.
- Reflect on students’ needs.
"What are my students struggling with?"
- Identify something to meet that need.
"How might I use this to meet the needs of my learners?”
- Investigate and create new methods or strategies.
“What brings this principle to life?”
- Teach a lesson using the new method or strategy.
“What does this principle look like in my teaching environment?”
- Assess the new method or strategy.
“How did my students demonstrate knowledge or skills?”
- Reflect on how the new method or strategy worked.
“How did the principle enhance students’ outcomes?”
Source: Nelson, 2014