UDL: How can the Science Behind Learning Inform More Effective Instruction & Space Design?


James Basham Ph.D.,
University of Kansas & UDL-IRN

David Reid
Gould Evans

Stacy Roth

Scott Rice
Education Solutions


1.5 Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

This sessions focuses heavily on ways to provide positive emotional responses among users of schools and learning environments, and equitable access to the same learning experiences for all learners regardless of physical or mental disabilities. Just as Universal Design accommodates for the physical disabilities of all people, Universal Design for Learning accommodates for the mental, physical, and emotional accessibility to learning content for all variations of learners and all learning disabilities. All four learning objectives apply to these outcomes.


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an internationally recognized framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Developed by neuro psychologists at Harvard, UDL takes advantage of both innovative instructional methodologies as well as flexible technologies to support highly diverse learners. This session will introduce attendees to the proven practices and benefits of UDL, how to go about implementing UDL, and how to think differently about learning spaces to optimize UDL principles. A carefully facilitated brainstorming exercise among attendees will help vet out challenges and opportunities experienced among the schools that attendees represent, and the session hosts will conduct a follow-up Q&A to offer insights and practical tips on advancing the application of the time-tested strategies of Universal Design for Learning.

Learning Objectives:
  • Attendees will be able to better deliver personalized learning using the proven principles of UDL presented in the session and available through UDL-IRN sources.;
  • District/school representatives will be able to benefit from examples and lessons learned during the session, and create a roadmap for the adoption of UDL principles throughout their institutions.
  • Using their newfound understanding of the neuroscience behind UDL, attendees will be able to better assess and affect learning environments, identifying sometimes invisible obstructions, in support of providing equitable learning to every student.;
  • Using the UDL framework, attendees will be able to improve their sensitivities toward the variabilities across different learners and design new instructional methods and learning settings accordingly.
Primary Competency:

Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational eadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

Primary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Secondary Domain:

Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.

Additional information:

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Traditional curricula are ‘one-size-fits-all,’ and neglect the needs of a diverse student population. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a proactive approach that uses instructional strategies while taking advantage of flexible technologies (through learning materials) to support diverse learning needs.     Three Guiding Principles: 1. Provide multiple means of representing or presenting information. 2. Provide flexible methods for students to express understanding. 3. Provide flexible ways for students to engage in the learning process.   The Mission of the Universal Design for Learning – Implementation and Research Network (UDL-IRN): Our mission is to support the design of future ready learning environments that are equitable, beneficial, and meaningful for all learners. We believe this is done through the purposeful alignment of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. To support this mission we are engaged in the following activities: encouraging interdisciplinary research and understanding, supporting the dissemination and implementation of best practices, and promoting increased networking and collaboration across all education stakeholders.