Critical Elements of UDL Instruction
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) represents a paradigm shift in education that has the potential to improve outcomes for a broad range of learners. The UDL-IRN working with the Michigan Integrated Technology Supports (MITS) and in collaboration with CAST has identified four critical elements intended to serve as a foundation for UDL implementation and research. Educators aligning instruction to UDL must minimally include each of the four critical elements shown below. (Download: The Critical Elements PDF)
1. Clear Goals
- Goals and desired outcomes of the lesson/unit are aligned to the established content standards.
- Goals are clearly defined and separate from means. They allow multiple paths/options for achievement.
- Teachers have a clear understanding of the goal(s) of the lesson and specific learner outcomes.\
- Goals address the needs of every learner, are communicated in ways that are understandable to each learner, and can be expressed by them.
2. Intentional Planning for Learner Variability
- Intentional proactive planning that recognizes every learner is unique and that meeting the needs of learners in the margins- from challenged to most advanced- will likely benefit everyone.
- Addressing learner strengths and weaknesses, considering variables such as perceptual ability, language ability, background knowledge, cognitive strategies, and motivation.
- Anticipates the need for options, methods, materials, and other resources- including personnel- to provide adequate support and scaffolding.
- Maintains the rigor of the lesson- for all learners- by planning efforts (1) that embed necessary supports and (2) reduce unnecessary barriers.
3. Flexible Methods & Materials
- Teachers use a variety of media and methods to present information and content.
- A variety of methods are used to engage learners (e.g., provide choice, address student interest) and promote their ability to monitor their own learning (e.g., goal setting, self-assessment, and reflection).
- Learners use a variety of media and methods to demonstrate their knowledge.
4. Timely Progress Monitoring
- Formative assessments are frequent and timely enough to plan/redirect instruction and support intended outcomes.
- A variety of formative and summative assessments (e.g., projects, oral tests, written tests) are used by the learner to demonstrate knowledge and skill.
- Frequent opportunities exist for teacher reflection and new understandings.
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