Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) layers brain-based, research-backed teaching and learning strategies onto the architectural principles of Universal Design (UD) to enable learners to reach their educational goals more efficiently and effectively, whether or not they need or officially request an accommodation.
Students encounter a variety of barriers to achieving their educational goals. UDL enables us to identify and reduce many learning barriers, including physical, emotional, intellectual, and socio-economic challenges, as well as challenges caused by athletics or work schedules, family obligations, distance, learning a new language, lack of technology, or unreliable internet access. By proactively addressing the variability of our students’ diverse abilities, cultural expectations, and prior learning, UDL makes learning more accessible, thus creating a more equitable environment that is highly engaging and inherently inclusive. Therefore, it features prominently in the Schreyer Institute’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
The UDL Framework, developed by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), proposes that we provide students with multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression. Each of these three UDL Principles corresponds to an area of the brain as identified by CAST’s cognitive neuroscientists.
The guidelines within the framework present specific, evidence-based teaching and learning strategies that activate those parts of the brain to foster deep learning. Implementing these strategies advances the goal of UDL, which is to enable students become expert learners by providing them with multiple ways to become purposeful & motivated, resourceful & knowledgeable, and strategic & goal-directed learners (CAST 2018).
- Teach to Reach: Maximizing Learning for All Students (Schreyer Institute short course)
- Universal Design for Learning: It's Just Good Design! (recorded webinar)
- UDL Kaltura Playlist
UDL Team – Fall 2021
- Matt Dingo, Instructional Designer 3, World Campus Faculty Development
- Lauraine Hawkins, Assistant Professor, Biology, Penn State Mont Alto
- Gina Pazzaglia, Director, MPS Program in Nutritional Sciences & Associate Teaching Professor, Penn State University Park
- Lynn Pierce, Graduate Intern, Student Disability Resources, Penn State University Park
- Mary Ann Tobin, Assistant Research Professor & Instructional Consultant, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Penn State University Park
- Sonya Woods, Accessibility Consultant & Training Coordinator, Penn State World Campus
UDL at Penn State
In the spring of 2017, Schreyer Institute Faculty Consultant Dr. Mary Ann Tobin met with Keith Jervis, the former Executive Director of Student Disability Resources. Based on a shared interest in UDL, they brought together like-minded individuals to form the UDL Team. The goal of the UDL Team is to raise awareness of the framework, teach others about it, and increase its implementation in teaching and learning contexts across the university. The team created a Schreyer Institute short course on the topic, Teach to Reach: Maximizing Learning for All Students, which welcomed its inaugural participants in Fall 2018. This collaboration between the Schreyer Institute, Student Disability Resources, World Campus, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), is a four-week, non-credit, limited-enrollment, online course that is open to faculty of any rank or status, teaching assistants, post-doctoral instructors, and members of the learning design community. Participants are invited to apply the UDL Framework to their teaching and learning context, with the option of submitting a project for review and feedback. The best of these projects are shared in future courses and workshops. Currently, we are designing on an introductory UDL course that is co-sponsored by the Schreyer Institute and World Campus Faculty Development.
To learn more about UDL, our courses, or to invite the UDL Team to present for your department or committee meeting, contact Mary Ann Tobin at firstname.lastname@example.org.