The Universal Design for Learning

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Use the Universal Design for Learning assessment strategies to enhance learning in the classroom. These strategies will enable teachers to be flexible, always improving the learning experience.

The Universal Design for Learning is a research-based set of principles that help customize and adjust school curriculum. To make learning universal in nature, this scientific based framework refines the approach of the educator in the way they teach, what they teach, and how they teach.

The key of the UDL framework is “flexibility.” It focuses on curriculum, teaching methods and classroom environments that are flexible and open to change. Assessment and evaluation are the key factors to the Universal Design for Learning. Here we will focus on these key factors.

Regardless of the variability in students’ strengths and limitations, UDL assists educators to reach every student by providing flexible instructional materials, techniques, and strategies. It promotes the engagement of each learner by making learning more accessible to every student.

UDL Assessment

Assessment is the process of gathering information and evaluating the progress of a learner using different methods and materials. The UDL assessment is designed in such a way that it measures precisely the level of knowledge, skills and interests of the student. An UDL-based assessment mutually informs students and teachers of the level of student understanding through three different types of assessments that are integral parts of an UDL-based curriculum.

The three types of UDL assessments are:

1. Assessment for Learning

Also called formative assessments, these assessments happen on the spot, during a classroom activity, to assess how students are doing in the lesson. For example, at the beginning of class the teacher can ask some questions to review the previous lesson and preview the current lesson. This is an effective method to engage all learners.

2. Assessment of Learning

These assessments, otherwise known as summative assessments, concentrate on learner outcomes rather than the program of instruction alone. They are based on a collection of information throughout a designated period of time. They focus on the level of a student’s understanding of the instructions presented and developed during a unit. They provide a means to demonstrate student mastery of the learning outcomes and include a variety of activities such as tests, demonstrations, portfolios, internships, clinicals and capstone projects.

3. Assessment as Learning

With this method of assessment, completed under the guidance of educators, students become aware of their strengths and needs. This is done by providing checklists to self-assess and self-monitor in order to recognize the strategies that most effectively support their own learning style. By doing this, students understand their personal motivations for learning, which will further develop in them the confidence to explore in their learning. This method helps students become enthusiastic and independent learners.

Following the Universal Design for Learning, teachers can be empowered to tailor learning to better suit their own teaching style as well as the learning styles of their students.

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