Universal Design for Learning at Saint Mary’s
What is Universal Design for Learning?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. – National Center on Universal Design for Learning.
The easiest way to incorporate UDL into your course is to use “Plus One” thinking. See the toggle below!
One of the foundational elements of UDL is providing for a diversity in a wide range of ways. UDL builds an explicit attention to Other by starting with the premise of acknowledging and respecting diversity in the human condition. While we are conditioned to think of diversity in terms of inequalities and binary distinctions, UDL approaches content, expression, and assessment via the idea of “multiples”:
- Multiple Means of Representation: what are other ways you can present information and concepts in your course?
- Multiple Means of Expression: what are other ways you can ask students to demonstrate what they have learned?
- Multiple Means of Engagement: what are other ways you can build student interest and persistence?
What we love about UDL
UDL gives us the opportunity to:
- Increase student success
- Bring people together
- Build bridges
- Pay explicit attention to a variety of needs
- Shape and assume respect
What is Plus One Thinking?
“Plus One” thinking is the easiest way to start doing universal design for learning in your courses. No course can be universally designed at once. It’s too much work, and we are always learning about new needs and new ways to expand access.
Plus One thinking, according to Thomas Tobin, is to think, each time you teach a course, “What is one extra way that I could represent a concept / engage my students / allow students to express their learning this term?” Then incorporate that as an additional resource. As you teach the course again and again, eventually you will have a wide repertoire of ways for students to encounter your course!
For some ideas, look at this handy, color-coded table.
Saint Mary’s University is committed to assuring that students with documented disabilities have access to equal educational programs and activities at the university. If you believe that you have a disability that may interfere with your ability to participate in the activities, coursework, or assessments of this course, you may be entitled to accommodation. Please contact Karen Hemker, Access Services within the Student Success Center, as early in the semester as possible to arrange a confidential discussion about your need for accommodation. Please schedule an appointment or email email@example.com.
What is Saint Mary's doing?
An Introduction to Universal Design at Saint Mary’s – (Google Slides)
Creating a Universally Designed Syllabus (Tegrity Recording)
News and Updates on UDL
Saint Mary’s offers a number of resources for increasing access to your course via Google Read & Write and Zoom
As our Convocation keynote speaker, Dr. Ramón Pastrano reminded us, too often we mistake a failure of our systems to meet students where they are for a deficiency in students themselves. That should make designing accessible courses a vital part of faculty work. But where to start?