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UDL Versus Traditional Classrooms

UDL Versus Traditional Classrooms

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn how classrooms that utilize Universal Design for Learning compare to traditional classrooms.

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In this tutorial, we'll take a look at some of the differences between the traditional classroom environment and the environment in a classroom that embraces universal design for learning. We'll focus on four areas of differences-- student learning needs, student learning styles, classroom instruction, and assessment. Let's get started.

First, how are differences in student learning needs addressed in the two different types of classrooms? In a traditional classroom, student needs tend to be addressed only when they start to become problematic, either academically or behaviorally. In UDL classrooms, however, diversity in student learning needs is an integral part of the planning process. Teachers consider how to address these needs as part of planning instruction and assessment.

Next, how are student learning styles addressed in the more traditional classroom environment? Individual student learning styles and strengths do not tend to be factored into the instructional planning in a UDL classroom. However, teachers guide students as they learn about their own learning styles and preferences. This helps students to make the best choices based on their learning styles, and to set appropriate learning goals for themselves.

Next, let's look at the instructional differences in a traditional classroom versus the UDL classroom. In a traditional classroom, the focus tends to be on whole-class instruction. In classrooms that utilize universal design for learning, teachers tend to focus on a flexible, collaborative classroom environment. In this environment, students can be grouped and arranged as needed.

Finally, what might assessment look like in each of these classrooms? In a traditional classroom, the emphasis is on summative assessment. This is the primary method that is used to evaluate student mastery of the content and standards. In contrast, in a UDL classroom, the assessment that is utilized tends to be formative and diagnostic. This helps teachers to design instruction that is responsive to the needs of the individual learners in the classroom.

In this tutorial, we looked at four ways in which a traditional classroom environment differs from a UDL classroom environment. We learned how student learning needs are addressed, how student learning styles are taken into account, what instruction might look like, and what types of assessment are likely to be used in each of these classroom environments.

Now, it's your turn to stop and reflect. Do you currently utilize strategies that might fit with the UDL-designed classroom as opposed to the traditional classroom environment?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "UDL Versus Traditional Classrooms"

(00:00 - 00:23) Introduction

(00:24 - 00:49) Learning Needs

(00:50 - 01:14) Learning Styles

(01:15 - 01:37) Instruction

(01:38 - 02:04) Assessment

(02:05 - 02:24) Review

(02:25 - 02:52) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Maryland Learning Links: UDL in Your Classroom

This site uses a case study to review ways teachers can apply UDL in four main areas of a school curriculum: goals, instructional materials, instructional methods, and assessments.

Making It Happen: Using Differentiated Instruction, Retrofit Framework, and Universal Design for Learning

This article compares UDL and Retrofit through case studies to determine the best approach to differentiation for students. The end of the article provides suggestions for reflection when evaluating practices with DI, Retrofitting, and UDL.