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Explorations and Discoveries with Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The research continues. Sarah Bryans Bongey, M.Ed. March 16, 2011 8:00 – 9:00 am. This presentation emphasizes UDL in undergraduate education. Universal Design has its foundations in architecture and product design.

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explorations and discoveries with universal design for learning udl the research continues

Explorations and Discoveries with Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The research continues

Sarah Bryans Bongey, M.Ed.

March 16, 2011

8:00 – 9:00 am

This presentation emphasizes UDL in undergraduate education.

universal design has its foundations in architecture and product design
Universal Design has its foundations in architecture and product design

Ron Mace, 1941-1998 Architect, Founder, Center for Universal Design

Sidewalk with curb cuts

Ramp in Ferris Elementary School


“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”–Ron Mace

udl defined
UDL Defined
  • Taps the flexibility of digital media
  • Strong design anticipates diverse needs rather than retrofits (e.g., initial provision of captioning for deaf, podcast for those with visual challenges)
  • UDL is based on UD in architecture as well as research defining three primary brain networks (Recognition, Strategic, Affective)
  • Not just a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be adjusted to meet individual needs (CAST, 2011).
udl drivers
UDL Drivers
  • Increasing diversity
  • Universal Design for Learning: Smart from the Start (Pisha & Coyne, 2001)
  • Legislation: Higher Education Opportunity Act
  • UDL is a “scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice” (GovTrack.us, 2008).
case study udl in bio 2120
Case Study: UDL in BIO 2120
  • UDL intervention. 116 undergrads in BIO 2120. Spring semester of a year-long course in Anatomy and Physiology
  • Used CAST guidelines and checklist to create UDL course design.

Source: CAST, 2011


BIO 2120: Supplemental use of a Learning Management System (LMS) Multiple Means of Representation: Podcasts, Audio Blackboards, Captioned videos, animations from publisher, course notes.


Multiple Means of Action and Expression: Online and f2f options: Discussion Board, labs, guided study sessions, online chat with professor and peers.


Multiple Means of Engagement: Online Office Hour with Professor and Chat Logs for those who can’t attend synchronously. Also, hands-on activities/labs, online learning games, and options, including 24/7 access to course materials.

Source: BIO2120 Follow-up interviews with students who self-reported on survey as having a disability, 5/2009.

Student responses from follow-up interviews (based on self-report of those claiming to have a disability)

  • “I wish all of my professors would do this”
  • “I think this could be duplicated and used for many types of courses and it would be very helpful”

Students with disabilities stated that the UDL design did not cause them to attend class lectures less frequently.


Student tracking data shows that when UDL design was implemented, the total user sessions went up (6542 to 7241) and average session length also rose from 5:29 minutes per session to 8:00 minutes per session.Source: Blackboard/WebCT Student Tracking Data, 2008/2009. Fall semester (non-UDL) versus Spring semester (UDL).

Findings drive plans for future research: One instructor, two sections of f2f course in Management Ethics
udl the research continues
UDL: The research continues
  • Literature emphasizes challenge faced by instructors/designers (Edyburn, 2010; Getzel, 2008; Rose, Harbour, Johnston, Daley, & Abarbanell, 2008).
  • Data from BIO 2120 study (Bryans Bongey, Cizadlo, & Kalnbach, 2010) indicated possibility students more engaged in UDL version.
  • Next:
    • Quasi-experimental project (two sections of MGT Ethics course) to look at UDL’s potential to increase student engagement.
    • Also look at viability of LMS-facilitated UDL through the perspective of the instructor.
applying udl
Applying UDL:

Your comments and questions?


  • UDL Design suggestions
    • Multiple means of representation
    • Multiple means of expression
    • Multiple means of engagement
    • Other
  • Describe a class you teach or participate in (content, number of students, etc.)
  • Using the guidelines from CAST
    • Example from different domains (representation, expression, engagement)
    • How would it benefit student learning?
additional udl resources
Additional UDL Resources
  • CAST Guidelines, Educator Checklist, learning modules, tutorials, and a wealth of free resources: www.cast.org
  • Accessibility options and procedures (e.g., HTML file format, use of alt tags)
  • UDL Blog: http://udlsig.wordpress.com
  • Questions? Suggestions? Please contact: Sarah Bryans Bongey, Doctoral Candidate, University of Minnesota, Duluth & Academic Technology Coordinator, The College of St. Scholastica, sbongey@css.edu



Bryans Bongey, S., Cizadlo, G., & Kalnbach, L. (2010). Blended Solutions: Using a supplemental online course site to deliver Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Campus-wide Information Systems (27)1, p. 4-16.

Center for Applied Special Technology. (2011). Universal design for learning. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html

Edyburn, D. L. (2010). Would you recognize universal design for learning if you saw it? Ten propositions for new directions for the second decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33-41. Retrieved from http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cld/ldq/2010/00000033/00000001;jsessionid=b8d2mdivrs1q.victoria

EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. (2008b). Key findings. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ers0808

Getzel, E. E. (2008). Addressing the persistence and retention of students with disabilities in higher education: Incorporating key strategies and supports on campus. Exceptionality, 16, 207-219. doi: 10.1080/09362830802412216

GovTrack.us. (2008). Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 4137) to amend and extend the Higher Education Act. Retrieved from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr110-956&tab=votes

references continued
References (Continued)
  • Pisha, B., & Coyne, P. (2001). Smart from the start: The promise of universal design for learning. Remedial and Special Education, 22(4), 197-203. Retrieved from http://rse.sagepub.com
  • Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2008). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. In S. Burgstahler & R. Cory (Eds.), Universal design in higher education (pp. 45-60). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2000). The future is in the margins: The role of technology and disability in educational reform (A report prepared for the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Technology). Washington, DC: U.S. DOE. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2009). Higher education and disability: Education needs a coordinated approach to improve its assistance to schools in supporting students. (Publication no. GAO-10-33). Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-33
  • Van Garderen, D., & Whittaker, C. (2006). Planning differentiated, multicultural instruction for secondary inclusive classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(3), 12-20. Retrieved from http://www.cec.sped.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Publications2/TEACHINGExceptionalChildren/default.htm
  • Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.