An Introduction to UDL

Pellissippi State Community College is committed to ensure that all students have “full access to course content from the beginning of every semester” (PSCC policy 00:04:00, emphasis added). To achieve this goal, faculty are asked to utilize Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in the development and delivery of course content.

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. This framework is based on three main principles:

Illustration of the brain with the affective networks (the WHY of learning) at the center of the brain highlighted in green

Engagement: UDL encourages teachers to look for multiple ways to motivate students. Letting kids make choices and giving them assignments that feel relevant to their lives are some examples of how teachers can sustain students’ interest. Other common strategies include making skillbuilding feel like a game and creating opportunities for students to get up and move around the classroom. The “WHY” of learning. Explore the engagement principle.

Illustration of the brain with the recognition networks (the WHAT of learning) at the back of the brain highlighted in purple

Representation: UDL recommends offering information in more than one format. For example, textbooks are primarily visual. But providing text, audio, video and hands-on learning gives all kids a chance to access the material in whichever way is best suited to their learning strengths. The “WHAT” of learning. Explore the representation principle.

Illustration of the brain with the strategic networks (the HOW of learning) at the front of the brain highlighted in blue

Action and expression: UDL suggests giving kids more than one way to interact with the material and to show what they’ve learned. For example, students might get to choose between taking a pencil-and-paper test, giving an oral presentation or doing a group project. The “HOW” of learning. Explore the action and expression principle.

UDL Resources

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Dr. Paul Ramp, Director


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