Three Steps to Motivation with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

One of the biggest issues facing teachers in classrooms across the country is the unmotivated student. Teachers have to address two challenges: changing the student’s thinking so that he believes that he can be successful with instructional tasks and determining what motivates the student and fosters his interest.

An unmotivated student may not see the value in the academic content or understand the learning goals. The student may believe that the academic expectations are not attainable or his efforts will not result in progress. He may not be receiving appropriate supports, study strategies, or feedback. Distractions may be interfering with learning. The student may not be motivated by the rewards if they are unclear, inconsistent, or ineffectively communicated.

Within the context of learning, the more students feel competent and in control of their own learning, the more motivated and engaged they will be with the curriculum. Along the same line, educators should be committed to creating learning environments in which all students can thrive.

How does UDL Motivate Students?

Many schools, including CSU, Chico, have adopted "Universal Design" principles to ensure that all students have access to the curriculum and are actively engaged in learning. Universal Design recognizes that there is a broad spectrum of human abilities and that many things can be created in ways that are easier for all people to use.

“When we started to look at the technology in these silos, we saw that when we gave it out to one student, we affected one student,” Olguin says. “If we gave it out to faculty members and staff, then we affected 260 students and beyond.”

Universal Design has been applied to learning. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for guiding educational practice. It involves the design of instructional materials and activities that allows learning goals to be attainable by students with a wide range of abilities.*

 The essential features of UDL are included in three principles:

  1. Multiple means of representation: Curricular content can be presented in alternate modes, including visual and auditory, and different levels of complexity.
  2. Multiple means of expression: The curriculum offers students different ways to respond to academic tasks.
  3. Multiple means of engagement: The curriculum matches student’s interests with presentation modes and preferred means of expression. This principle emphasizes motivation, engagement, and active learning.

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