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Universal Design for Learning

Author: Kelly Jo Fulkerson Dikuua, PhD May 18, 2022

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an evidence-based educational framework that reduces barriers to learning by centering three main principles: engagement, representation, and action and expression. Engagement refers to ways that faculty can connect with learners by recognizing their needs, demonstrating the relevance of course materials, and creating a welcoming environment. Under the principles of UDL, representation considers how materials can be presented in multiple modes and in the most accessible manner possible. Action and expression encompass allowing learners the autonomy to demonstrate their learning in multiple modes, to have choices in their learning, and to support assistive technology or resources as needed. UDL sparks intrinsic motivation and helps learners develop into expert learners who are motivated, purposeful, goal-driven, and resourceful. 


Use the comments section below to let us know your ideas about universal design for learning.

  1. Promote engagement by sharing clear learning goals with your learners and talking to them about how these goals are relevant to their own personal and professional goals. 

  2. Use multiple forms of representing, or conveying, course information. For instance, with texts, offer options that include text-to-audio or audiobook options. Alternately, use texts that can be adapted in terms of font size and color. 

  3. To promote action and expression, develop opportunities for guided goal-setting and monitoring. For example, create an assignment that allows learners to set their own mini-goals within the assignment and work towards these goals.  

  4. Imagine the design process for your class like the one an architecture team might use when developing accessible buildings. Several free resources, including this graphic, can support your Universal Design for Learning process.