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Universal Design in Learning

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Another way to support students is through Universal Design in Learning (UDL) (CAST, 2018). UDL is a framework for optimising learning for all students. It does this by providing multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation and multiple means of action and expression. When curriculum is designed to meet the needs of as many students as possible, the demand for special adjustments for individual students is minimised (Rose & Strangman, 2007).

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CAST: UDL at a Glance (5 mins)

Multiple means of engagement

Engagement refers to attracting and maintaining student interest. Students are motivated in different ways. Teachers should use a variety of strategies for attracting student interest and helping them learn to maintain interest. One way to do this for adults is to offer authentic, real-world learning experiences since it is clear how these relate to the students’ future career goals.

Multiple means of representation

This refers to ways of communicating information to students. Different students learn in different ways. For example, students with dyslexia may prefer to learn by listening than by reading. Educators can provide students with text that can be read by screen readers, or by providing audio-visual material in addition to text. Teachers may also support students’ reading by pre-teaching difficult words, activating background knowledge and teaching the structure of a particular reading.

Multiple means of action and expression

Students should be provided with opportunities to interact with material and to demonstrate their learning in multiple ways. For example, educators should avoid over-reliance on activities that require writing and not mark students down for spelling and grammar where this is not an objective for the task. If a writing genre (e.g. an essay) is to be used as an assessment tool, students must first be taught how to write essays. Students with dyslexia take longer to write, so the time given (to all students) to complete assignments should be flexible and generous.

The UDL Guidelines provide a tool used in the implementation of Universal Design for Learning. Notice how it is organised: The columns refer to each of the three areas of UDL. Rows progress from teacher-led instruction at the top, to the development of student self-efficacy at the bottom.

CAST. (2018). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.2.

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Supporting Adult and Adolescent Students with Dyslexia

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