Universal Design for Learning (Part 5): Action and Expression Strategies
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Universal Design for Learning (Part 5): Action and Expression Strategies


Universal Design for Learning or UDL is
a design framework that instructors can use to reduce barriers students face in
the classroom and increase access to opportunities to succeed. We can
implement UDL in our classrooms through three guidelines: engagement,
representation, and action and expression. In this video, you will develop ways to
integrate multiple means of action and expression, which give learners diverse
ways to express how they understand course content and develop course skills
as a result of course experiences. By providing a number of ways for students
to demonstrate their knowledge, you can help them more fully obtain course
outcomes. While this principle can be implemented in no-tech, low-tech or high-tech ways, UDL adopters often use free and low-cost technology tools due to
their powerful learning possibilities. First, let’s talk about some concrete
strategies that can help students across classrooms without watering down
learning outcomes. Now of course not every one of these strategies will work
in every course or subject area. It’s up to you to find the ones that you’re
comfortable with and that align with your goals for learners.
Can you build opportunities for learners to communicate their knowledge and
understanding in a variety of formats as appropriate and relevant for your course
content? Of course, if you teach a writing-intensive course writing is going to be
a key component, but consider the kinds of writing you’re asking students to do.
Vary the length purpose and intended audience to help students see how
writing exists across your discipline and its relevance across their personal
and professional lives. Also, if on-the-spot presentations aren’t key to your
course outcomes let’s students pre-record any talks or demonstrations so
that they can refine their work. Then in your class session they can focus on
responding to questions in deep and meaningful ways. Also, think about how you
can share checklists or guides for note-taking with your students. This is a
skill our learners often struggle in developing. Give them lecture outlines in
advance of, or after, class so they can review content or build their
note-taking abilities by giving them progressively less-structured note
guides. You can also give learners in your classroom examples of different
ways to solve problems, both with real-life and academic examples. These
kinds of instances can help them act on their own knowledge or see how your
course is meaningful in their lives. You can actively do this by building time at
the beginning or end of your course sessions where you focus on how the
subject area knowledge can be used to think about real world problems; or you
can pose authentic situations to students and ask them to consider how
they would respond. They might have to come up with your own ideas or perhaps
they can find examples to share with the whole class. And finally, consider
different ways students could express their knowledge and ideas with you and
with their peers. Consider class formats that allow students to meet with you
individually, with a small group of students or as a whole class.
This can be facilitated through on-campus meetings or synchronous
sessions online using WebEx in Moodle. These are some ways to consider multiple
means of action and expression that may help all learners in your classroom. Some
of these may sound familiar as many of them are simply good pedagogical
strategies. If you’re looking to target specific learner groups in your
discipline, it’s helpful to first identify who they are and what they need
in terms of action and expression. For example, prompting students to stop and
think about a key concept or show and explain their understandings can help
students with anxiety, international students or introverted learners in
demonstrating their knowledge. Or employing online discussion tools in
addition to (or in lieu of) face-to-face discussions can enable students with
auditory impairments, non-traditional students and underachieving students
among others to more effectively share their thoughts and ideas. For more
information on concrete strategies to integrate multiple means of action and
expression in your teaching, visit oakland.edu/cetl or check out
strategies shared by CAST or the National Center on UDL.

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