"An environment that is universally designed for learning shows students there are multiple ways to be successful, multiple ways to solve problems, and multiple ways to learn from mistakes."
Design for Learning in Action
by: Whitney H. Rapp
What is it?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an inclusive education model framework for teaching based on scientific research about how people learn (CAST, 2019). This framework considers and provides for all types of learners, ensuring access and opportunity to learn, understand, and connect. Specifically, UDL targets the way in which learners are Engaged, how information is Represented, and how students can take Action and Express their learning. UDL calls for the differentiation of these key networks in order to reach every student.
Why is it important?
Incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning into lesson planning is key to creating a foundation for learning that values and considers all ways of learning for all students. Curriculum standards seek a focus on high-level conceptual understanding, problem-solving, and disciplinary literacy (NRC, 2009). At the core of this are principles of student engagement and the importance of making connections between content and real world contexts (Tarr et al., 2008). Approaching lesson planning through the UDL framework ensures that the needs and strengths of all students are embedded in instruction and activities, and that each and every student has access and opportunity to learn and grow.
To improve mastery of rigorous academic standards in mathematics and disciplinary literacy for students with diverse learning needs, by using the Universal Design for Learning approach to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (2019). About universal design for learning. http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html#.XS80XOhKiUk
National Research Council. (2009). Mathematics learning in early childhood: Paths toward excellence and equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies.
Tarr, J. E., Reys, R. E., Reys, B. J., Chavez, O., Shih, J., & Osterlind, S. J. (2008). The impact of middle-grades mathematics curricula and the classroom learning environment on student achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 247-280.