The UDL Framework

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UDL three principles

Provide multiple means of engagement

Provide multiple means of engagement: Ensure all teaching materials and learning environments provide options for recruiting interest and support learner autonomy and choice. For example:

  • Make clear connections between the learning activities and students’ larger goals
  • Offer opportunities for collaborative and community building work, as well as self-reflection and self-assessment
  • The engagement principle guides us to ask:
    • Do learners have the space, tools, and materials they need to meet the challenge?
    • Are learners setting goals to help themselves stay motivated? 
    • Are the activities and information valuable to learners? 
    • Do learners feel welcome and safe in the learning environment?

Provide multiple means of representation

Provide multiple means of representation: Create options for customization in perception and comprehension and ensure that language and symbols are as clear as possible—do not assume shared knowledge or reference points. For example:

  • Offer ways for students to customize how they receive information, including text, audio, video and hands-on learning experiences
  • Clarify vocabulary, symbols, syntax and structure
  • Provide learning materials that represent diverse people and viewpoints, working from the principles of anti-racist and anti-colonial education and cultural humility (see glossary)
  • The representation principle guides us to as:
    • Does this help learners connect to what they already know? 
    • Are learners applying their understanding to new situations?
    • Can learners decode the information fluently? 
    • Can learners who speak different languages still access the content? 
    • Is the information only presented in one media form?
    • Have I included diverse materials representative of the student populations with which they can connect and recognize their own identities?

Provide multiple means of action and expression

Provide multiple means of action and expression: Give learners the opportunity to internalize the learning and demonstrate their knowledge and growth in a variety of ways.  For example:

  • Scaffold learning and build in opportunities for students to set their own goals and check back in on their progress in a variety of ways
  • Reduce the use of time-based assessments, where possible, to increase accessibility
  • Provide options for how students can complete assignments, including possibilities for oral, visual and/or written submissions
  • The action and expression principle guides us to ask:
    • Are learners planning their actions strategically? 
    • Are learners being helped in managing their learning? 
    • Do learners know if they are improving or not? 
    • Are there multiple ways for learners to communicate what they know? 
    • Are learners able to practice frequently?  
    • Do learners have access to tools and assistive technology?

A UDL perspective requires that educators notice how many learning environments are shaped by assumptions and exclusions that come from ableism, racism, colonialism and cisheteropatriarchy (see glossary). UDL works best when it actively disrupts these forms of power. UDL is increasingly understood to be an intersectional, equity-focused framework and used alongside other forms of anti-oppressive pedagogy. 

UDL’s goal is to scaffold skills for expert learning.

UDL describes the expert learner as one who is:

  • Purposeful and motivated (Engagement principle). They can manage themselves when they get stuck, collaborate with others, and focus on a task.
  • Resourceful and knowledgeable (Representation principle). They can find and curate information, connect ideas to create new understanding, and transfer knowledge across contexts.
  • Strategic and goal-directed (Action and Expression principle). They can break down a task, manage deadlines, organize resources, and communicate critical thinking.

UDL challenges our assumptions.

The framework guides us to challenge our assumptions about how students are engaging, making connections, and demonstrating knowledge and skills. There is no “one size fits all” approach; people are varied, and context can change how someone learns. Shelly Moore eloquently debunks the notion of average.

Learn more myths about UDL