Universal Design for Learning by Linda J. Ferrara

Design for
Linda Ferrara
Why ?
•The goal of education in the 21st century is the mastery of
the learning process. Education should help turn novice
learners into expert learners—individuals who want to learn,
who know how to learn strategically, and who, in their own
highly individual and flexible ways, are well prepared for a
lifetime of learning.
UDL has its basis in neuroscience; its three principals
correlate with the three networks in the brain which must
be simultaneously engaged for optimal learning to occur:
recognition (the what of learning)
(the how of learning)
(the why of learning)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) helps
educators meet this goal by providing a framework
for understanding how to create curricula that meets
the needs of all learners from the start.
UDL is a framework and set of principles to provide
ALL students opportunities to learn.
Curriculum barriers are reduced; learning is
supported; students gain knowledge, skills, and
enthusiasm for learning; and their learning is
UDL planning template
There are many ways in which the Common Core Standards
align to the UDL framework. Curricula (goals, methods,
materials, and assessments) designed using UDL put an
emphasis on creating effective, flexible goals, and the
Common Core Standards provide an important framework for
thinking about what goals will be most effective.
UDL emphasizes that an effective goal must be flexible
enough to allow learners multiple ways to successfully meet it.
To do this, the standard must not embed the means (the how)
with the goal (the what). What do we mean by this? One good
example is from the Mathematics standards: “apply and
extend previous understandings of multiplication and division
and of fractions to multiply and divide rational numbers.”
(Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grade 7,
The Number System, 7.NS, item 2, p.48) This standard is
flexible enough that all learners can meet this goal because it
does not specify how it must be done.
UDL & Arts Integration
Multiple Means of Representation
Multiple Means of Action and Expression
Multiple Means of Engagement
Your turn:
Within your group, choose a lesson plan that you have already
created and delivered to your students.
Look at the lesson plan through UDL “lenses”. Examine it for
evidence of the UDL principles of multiple means of
representation, expression and engagement.
What UDL principles are evident? In what way?
What could you add or change to further implement the UDL
principles? What barriers will that remove?
How are you currently supporting learning in
your diverse classroom and reducing barriers?
At the core of UDL is the premise that often the
curriculum is disabled (and disabling!). It is not
flexible; it often poses barriers, and
consequently prevents rather than supports
optimal learning experiences. Do you agree or
disagree with this view? Why or why not?
What are the benefits of analyzing the
curriculum for strengths and weaknesses rather
than focusing on the student’s strengths and
weaknesses? What are the challenges of this
UDL Resources for Teachers
www.cast.org - learning tools
Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, organ,
CAST: Center for Applied Special
Technology, www.cast.org
Maryland State Department of Education,
National Center on Universal Design for
Learning, www.udlcenter.org