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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - Topic 1

What is it?

     Universal Design for Learning or UDL is a framework and guidelines for education that designs teaching to address the learning needs of a broad possible range of students in a flexible manner.  UDL is organized around three principles.

  1. Provide multiple means of representation (ways to present for learning).
  2. Provide multiple means of action and expression (how to express learning).
  3. Provide multiple means of engagement (why of learning, motivation).

Based on these three principles, nine evidence-based guidelines are provided to teachers to encourage them to design instruction and curriculum that is inclusive and effective for all students.

  1. Provide options for perception
  1. Provide options for language and symbols
  2. Provide options for comprehension
  3. Provide options for physical action
  4. Provide options for expressive skills and fluency
  5. Provide options for executive functions
  6. Provide options for recruiting interest
  7. Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
  8. Provide options for self-regulation (CAST, 2008)

UDL can be actualized within lessons, materials, instructional units or curriculum to improve student participation and achievement by removing potential barriers.

There is evidence supporting the effectiveness of UDL applications in various subject areas and across all grade spans.  It has been shown that the core practices, instructional elements and specific application of UDL have merit.  At this point there is limited research on large-scale adoption at the school or district level. (Rose & Gravel, 2010).

Why is it important?

      UDL is based on research into the design of conducive learning environments and the nature of learning differences.  As Secondary Educators, MOSAIC graduates will be responsible for developing, delivering, and advocating for instruction that is responsive to the needs of a wide array of students.  UDL provides a systematic framework for this essential practice.


Rose, D.H., & Gravel, J.W. (2010).  Universal Design for Learning.  In P. Peterson, E. Baker & B.

         McGraw (eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (pp. 119-124). Oxford:Elsevier.

CAST (2008).  Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 1.0.  Wakefield, MA: Author.  

Web Links

      CAST, Universal Design for Learning

      NIMAS Development and Technical Assistance Centers

      National Center on Universal Design for Learning

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