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.


Syllabus Statement

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 khemker@smumn.edu.

News and Updates on UDL

Canvas Minimum Usage

Canvas Minimum Usage

The Canvas Minimum Usage Transition document outlines the preparations faculty should complete for their Canvas courses prior to each term. The intention of these preparation lists is to provide a minimum level of consistency across course information on the Canvas...

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Dr. Annika Konrad’s Talk and Workshop recordings available

Dr. Annika Konrad’s Talk and Workshop recordings available

We were ecstatic to have Dr. Annika Konrad come to Saint Mary’s to talk to faculty and staff about access, pedagogy, and interdependence. There was great discussion and many takeaways from the talk and workshop. But if you missed them, you can now see the recordings on our recordings page, or click “read more” to see them here! You do have to be logged in to your smumn.edu Canvas account to access the recordings.

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Come hear Dr. Annika Konrad speak on a Pedagogy of Interdependence

Come hear Dr. Annika Konrad speak on a Pedagogy of Interdependence

Access Services, Integratus, and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will be welcoming Dr. Annika Konrad of Dartmouth College for a virtual talk on March 24 at 12:15pm and a virtual workshop for faculty on March 25 at 2pm. Both events will be on Zoom. The title of her talk will be, “Learning from Stories of Access Fatigue: Building Interdependence into Pedagogical Design”.

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