Universal design (UDL) is an approach to designing instruction, materials, and content to benefit ALL students. UDL helps address student variability in learning styles with flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that empower teachers to meet varied student needs. Goals, methods, materials and assessments comprise the four components of UDL curriculum.

Interconnected Systems in the Learning Brain

1.    Recognition – Networks in the brain that enable us to identify and understand information, ideas, and concepts; networks specialized to patterns we see, hear, touch and smell.

The “WHAT” of Learning

How we gather facts and categorize what we see, hear, and read.  Identifying letters, words, or a particular style of writing are recognition tasks.

Present information and content in different ways.

2.    Strategic – Networks in the brain that enable us to plan, execute, and self-monitor actions and skills; networks specialized to generate and oversee mental and motor patterns. 

The “HOW” of Learning

Planning and performing tasks. How we organize and express our ideas.  Writing an essay or solving a math problem are strategic tasks.

Differentiate the ways that students express what they know.

3.    Affective – Networks in the brain that enable us to engage with learning; networks specialized to evaluate patterns and impact emotional significance to them.  

The “WHY” of Learning

How learners get engaged and stay motivated. How they are challenged, excited, or interested. These are affective dimensions.

Stimulate interest and motivation for learning by pursuing goals,
developing preferences, building confidence, persisting in the face of difficulty,
establishing priorities and caring about learning.

We learn through our senses.  By using all senses when teaching, students with various learning styles or disabilities can benefit because they have variety and choice.  Multi-sensory instruction includes visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic (movement) strategies to stimulate learning by accessing multiple brain pathways. These strategies can be used individually or for the entire class.  Click below for a printable UDL/Multi-sensory Toolkit handout.