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Three Principles of UDL

Three Principles of UDL

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn about the three main principles that underlie Universal Design for Learning.

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In this tutorial, we'll learn about the three principles of universal design for learning. Recall that Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is a flexible approach to the design of both curriculum and instruction. It incorporates accommodations or modifications as a part of the planning process, instead of as an afterthought. So throughout this introductory tutorial, we'll examine the three principals that make up UDL.

Principle Number 1 is providing multiple means of representation. Principle 2 is providing multiple means of action and expression. And Principle 3 is providing multiple means of engagement. Let's take a closer look at each of these principles in turn.

Principle 1-- provide multiple means of representation. In short, this principle asks us to present information to students in a variety of ways, because students take in and make sense of information in a variety of ways. Simply using one style or method of teaching is not going to be the optimal fit for all students. In other words, we can't take a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching.

There are three main areas that teachers can focus on when providing multiple means of representation-- perception, language, expression, and symbols, and comprehensions. Each of these areas of focus will be addressed specifically with some instructional guidelines in a later lesson.

Principle Number 2-- provide multiple means of action and expression. Just as students show diversity in the ways that they take in and make sense of information, they also have different preferences and strengths in the ways that they are able to operate within learning settings, and in the ways that they are able to show us what they know. For this reason, we should provide options for the ways in which students can demonstrate to us their understanding or their learning.

For example, some students may prefer to write information, while others may choose to draw or build or otherwise create a product for us. Still others may choose a form of oral expression. All of the options that we provide need to require students to use strategic thinking skills to demonstrate an organization of their thoughts and their actions, and the opportunity to practice for fluency in their chosen method. Once again, we can't just adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, so providing these multiple means of action and expression can help all of our students to demonstrate their mastery of learning to us.

Finally, Principle 3-- provide multiple means of engagement. Still another way in which students demonstrate diversity is in what motivates them to learn or become engaged in their learning. Students' preferences in motivation and engagement are going to be as unique as the students themselves. So it's important to get to know your students in order to become familiar with their particular preferences, and in order for you to offer the most effective options for student engagement.

In this tutorial, we introduced the three principles that make up UDL, or Universal Design for Learning. These three principles included providing multiple means of representation, providing multiple means of action and expression, and providing multiple means of engagement.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Which of the UDL principles are you most looking forward to learning more about? Can you already see how providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement can be beneficial to all learners?

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly-acquired skill set.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Three Principles of UDL"

(00:00 - 00:42) Introduction

(00:43 - 01:27) Principle 1

(01:28 - 02:28) Principle 2

(02:29 - 02:57) Principle 3

(02:58 - 03:14) Review

(03:15 - 03:50) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT): Applications of Universal Design

DO-IT is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to share strategies and resources on Universal Design, promoting the development of accessible products and environments. This website includes guidance documents and training materials relevant to UDL.