Supporting International Students Using UDL
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Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that is applied to curriculum development, assessment, and teaching and learning strategies. It aims to enhance the learning experiences of all students by creating a flexible learning environment (Cornell University, 2022). Adapted from the more general principles of Universal Design, UDL in the sphere of education promotes learning that is open and accessible to all, without the need for specific accommodations for individual learners. What is Universal Design for Learning? Realising that a one-size-fits-all approach in education is not possible, CAST (2018) created a framework that recognises the diversity in learning communities and the challenges of meeting the needs of all learners. The framework consists of three principles, with accompanying guidelines that can be implemented in an educational context to create a more inclusive learning environment: • Multiple means of Representation: sharing information in a variety of formats so that a learner can choose their preferred mode to access the material; • Multiple means of action and expression: creating opportunities for learners to adapt materials in order to access them more fully, as well as allowing opportunities for learners to demonstrate their learning in more than one way, and interact with learning materials; • Multiple means of engagement: identifying ways to motivate learners as well as developing autonomy as learners (CAST, 2018). The need to support students with recognised disabilities or learning difficulties is well recognised and specific accommodations are provided to help them participate fully in university life. However, many learners from the wider student community also face learning challenges that can impact on their success. The benefits of making the learning environment more accessible for students with recognised disabilities or learning difficulties will also apply to the wider learning community.
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