This post is the second installment in a series on Universal Design for Learning. For more information, please see previous installments in this series.

When you are designing assignments to help your class practice new concepts, you can set up your students for success by implementing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  This involves creating tasks that provide multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of all learners. Providing multiple options for assignments involves offering students various ways to engage with the material, demonstrate their understanding, and express their learning.

When implementing UDL in your course, be sure to explain the rationale behind different assignment formats. This will make it clear to students that through engaging with various formats they get a variety of ways to practice their knowledge and can develop far stronger skills in order to achieve greater mastery. Also highlight the link between the different formats, for example, that all of these formats contribute to the main learning objectives of the course and that one format is not “easier” or “harder”. Lastly, provide them with necessary feedback to improve their learning irrespective of the format they choose. Below are some strategies you can use to designing assignments with UDL:

  1. Provide Clear Instructions: Clearly articulate the assignment objectives, expectations, and grading criteria. Consider providing written, spoken, and visual instructions to accommodate different learning preferences. A format-agnostic rubric will help to organize this, and we have resources available for you.
  2. Offer Multiple Options: Provide students with choices on how they can demonstrate their understanding of the material. This could include options such as written essays, oral presentations, multimedia projects, artistic creations, or hands-on demonstrations.
  3. Use Varied Formats: Present assignment materials in multiple formats to accommodate different learning styles. Offer readings in text, audio, and video formats, and provide visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and infographics to support comprehension. Allow students to choose the format in which they present their work. Options could include written reports, oral presentations, multimedia presentations (i.e. videos, audios), posters or infographics, or digital portfolios. Some tools that can support this such as Immersive Reader, Panopto Videos, and the OneButton Studio.
  4. Support Accessibility: Ensure that assignment materials are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Use accessible document formats, provide alternative text for images, and consider the needs of students who may require accommodations such as screen readers or captioning.
  5. Offer Feedback Options: Provide students with options for receiving feedback on their assignments, such as written comments, audio recordings, or face-to-face meetings. Speedgrader is a great resource for written and audio comments. Tailor feedback to individual student needs and preferences. Offer students options for receiving feedback on their assignments. Allow them to choose their preferred method of feedback, such as written comments, audio recordings, video feedback, or face-to-face meetings.
  6. Promote Reflection: Incorporate opportunities for students to reflect on their learning process and evaluate their own progress. Encourage metacognitive strategies such as goal setting, self-assessment, and reflection journals.

Each one of these strategies can become overwhelming, so start small. Don’t implement all of them at once; instead choose one strategy and implement it into 1 assignment or assessment. This is what Thomas Tobin calls the +1 method1: one activity that you already do plus one new, easy strategy. To read more about his strategy you can download his free pdf book UDL for FET Practitioners: Guidance for Implementing Universal Design for Learning.

Let’s take feedback options, for example. After using SpeedGrader to grade the students’ exams, many faculty and instructors typically offer some text feedback; however, you can easily implement a UDL strategy by also offering verbal feedback through the recorded audio button near the bottom of the feedback panel in SpeedGrader. You can make this a 1+1 goal for the next quarter, and as you become more proficient with this strategy you can slowly increase it to monthly and then weekly implementations.

By providing multiple options for UDL assignments, you can accommodate diverse learning styles, preferences, and abilities, and empower students to take ownership of their learning experiences.

Further Resources:

1Tobin, T. J. (2021). UDL for FET Practitioners. SOLAS. April 15, 2024,