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Connecting Universal Design for Learning With Culturally Responsive Teaching



Urban students are increasingly diverse in race, culture, language, and background knowledge. Educators must consider how students’ differences affect learning and align pedagogies that address this diversity. Universal design for learning (UDL) has provided educators with a framework for differentiation to address learner differences. Using UDL principles without explicitly considering how cultural differences and perspectives affect learning may increase the disparity in student achievement for students of color. Likewise, the same applies to the effect of socioeconomic status or language development on students’ preparation for learning in a “typical” school environment. Culturally responsive pedagogies prompt educators to design instruction from the perspective of students’ diversity as strengths rather than deficits. Frequently overlooked aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy are compared with the facets of the UDL framework to provide teachers with additional considerations when planning for effective instruction.
Education and Urban Society
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DOI: 10.1177/0013124518785012
Policy Article
Connecting Universal
Design for Learning
With Culturally
Responsive Teaching
Laura Kieran1 and Christine Anderson2
Urban students are increasingly diverse in race, culture, language, and
background knowledge. Educators must consider how students’ differences
affect learning and align pedagogies that address this diversity. Universal
design for learning (UDL) has provided educators with a framework for
differentiation to address learner differences. Using UDL principles without
explicitly considering how cultural differences and perspectives affect learning
may increase the disparity in student achievement for students of color.
Likewise, the same applies to the effect of socioeconomic status or language
development on students’ preparation for learning in a “typical” school
environment. Culturally responsive pedagogies prompt educators to design
instruction from the perspective of students’ diversity as strengths rather than
deficits. Frequently overlooked aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy are
compared with the facets of the UDL framework to provide teachers with
additional considerations when planning for effective instruction.
culturally responsive teaching, differentiated instruction, diverse learners,
opportunity gap, universal design for learning, urban education
1Drake University, Des Moines, IA, USA
2Western Illinois University, Moline, USA
Corresponding Author:
Laura Kieran, Drake University, 105 Collier-Scripps Hall, 2507 University Avenue, Des
Moines, IA 50311, USA.
785012EUSXXX10.1177/0013124518785012Education and Urban SocietyKieran and Anderson
2 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
Increasingly in urban environments educators teach students who are diverse
in culture, language, socioeconomic status, and ability. According to the
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES; 2016) from 2003 to 2013
enrollment in U. S. public schools shifted from 59% students who identified
as White to 50%; the number of Hispanic or Latino students increased from
19% to 25% in the same period. The remaining 25% of students are African
American, Native American, and Asian or Pacific Islander. In addition, the
NCES (2016) reported a national increase in the number of children below 18
years living in poverty, from 15% in the year 2000 to 20% in 2014. Historically
learners who are diverse in language, race, or culture, or ability, and students
who are growing up in poverty represent the groups of students at-risk of
underperforming compared with their peers (Edyburn, 2010). Furthermore,
factors such as race, social class, and language deeply influence students’
thinking, values, beliefs, and behaviors (Banks, 1996).
Teaching diverse learners is a complex task with high demands for students’
proficiency (Ladson-Billings, 2011). Tomlinson (2001) indicated that teachers
must differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. When plan-
ning for instruction, educators must be aware of their students’ readiness to
learn, their interests, and their learning profile, which includes learner prefer-
ences, strengths, and challenges. Every individual’s background and experi-
ences (in and out of the classroom) shape the learner. Educators even need to be
aware of the extent that previous learning experiences have been meaningful
and connected to their lives. This knowledge becomes especially important for
students who have been historically oppressed and marginalized. Villegas and
Lucas (2002) found when school experience emphasized rote memorization
and teacher-centered learning, then students’ belief in educations’ potential
value was limited, which further reduced motivation to learn.
For instructional planning to truly make a difference for all learners, edu-
cators must consider how students’ differences affect learning, and align
pedagogies that effectively address those differences. Without an awareness
of how experience and culture can affect learning, there is a danger of dispro-
portionate representation in special education, and the possibility of “confus-
ing disability with diversity” (Gay, 2002, p. 614). The same is true for the
affect of socioeconomic status or language development on students’ readi-
ness for learning in a “typical” school environment. Because teachers’ atti-
tudes toward, actions with, and expectations of diverse learners in no small
way determine the outcomes for students, educators must be aware of their
biases and how such stereotypes can be a threat to students’ learning (DeCuir-
Gunby, DeVance, Taliaferro, & Greenfield, 2010). Educators should select
pedagogies meant to differentiate, provide varied levels of challenge, and
give students opportunities for self-determination in the classroom.
Kieran and Anderson 3
Dosch and Zidon (2014) described the practice of differentiation as an
ongoing cycle of teaching and assessment in which assessment informs the
next steps of instruction. Through an analysis of the literature their study noted
that students across all racial groups, socioeconomic status, and levels of
English language acquisition benefited from intentionally designed differenti-
ated instruction. In reviewing the research on neuroscience, Margolis, Meese,
and Doring (2016) examined the role of flexible, differentiated instruction as
a means to develop inquiry and problem-solving skills with diverse, urban
learners. Margolis, et al. indicated that it was imperative that an instructional
shift occurred in urban settings where traditionally teachers have provided an
excessive amount of structure to drill lower level thinking skills.
Frameworks to Support Diverse Learners
Two pedagogical frameworks designed to address student differences are
universal design for learning (UDL) and culturally responsive teaching
(CRT). Both UDL and CRT consider ways in which traditional instructional
approaches result in barriers to learning for “non-traditional” students. These
obstacles are embedded within the class climate, the modes of instruction and
assessment; instructional materials, or the types of learning tasks and expected
outcomes for the learners. For example, when teachers have lower expecta-
tions for students, the instructional emphasis may be teacher-centered and
teacher-directed with few requirements for students to engage in higher level
thinking or problem solving. Results of lower expectations of students
included disengaged students, poor school performance, and increased drop-
out rates (DeCuir-Gunby et al., 2010; Steele, 2010). Doran (2015) found
UDL-reinforced students who were developing language skills through pro-
viding balanced levels of support and challenge as well as promoting high
Both UDL and CRT encourage teachers to proactively consider educa-
tional approaches that should result in increased student engagement and
learning. In both models, teachers view students’ differences as strengths
rather than shortcomings (Edyburn, 2010; Moore & Neal, 2007). The authors
will discuss UDL and CRT and strategies for combining these frameworks to
further guide educators in making decisions based on the specific attributes
of diverse learners in their classrooms.
UDL embodies a flexible, research-based planning framework that guides
teachers’ instructional decision making. The National Center on UDL (2013)
4 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
described UDL as “a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods,
materials, and assessments that work for everyone—not a single, one-size-
fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and
adjusted for individual needs” (para. 1).
UDL has three principles that guide teachers’ implementation (Rose &
Meyer, 2002):
1. Provide multiple means of representation
2. Provide multiple means of action and expression
3. Provide multiple means of engagement
Barriers to learning should be viewed from within the curriculum, instruc-
tion, and assessment methods rather than as deficits within the students. As
teachers plan, they need to be aware of their students’ present levels in com-
parison with the lesson outcomes, skills, and standards. Instruction, materi-
als, and assessments should be designed to increase students’ proficiency on
the standards and related learning goals. “In the process of identifying clear
goals, teachers can consider potential barriers students may have when reach-
ing the goal” (Rao & Meo, 2016, p. 5). To clearly identify barriers and obsta-
cles to students’ learning, educators must be aware of students’ skills and
background knowledge as related to the standards.
The very structure of the UDL blueprint encourages teachers to think flex-
ibly about the learner characteristics and the barriers students may have in
accessing the instruction and materials; assessment, and engagement. Each of
the facets of UDL is further broken down into guidelines with multiple check-
points to direct teachers’ considerations for implementation (National Center
on UDL, 2013). Within each of these areas, teachers develop an awareness of
potential barriers to their class content and the learning environment to
thoughtfully integrate UDL principles (National Center on UDL, 2013; Rose
& Meyer, 2002).
Multiple means of representation. Multiple means of representation includes the
variety of ways that teachers present information to students. Guidelines within
this facet of UDL include differentiating ways in which students can perceive
information, providing options for written and spoken language, including
mathematical symbols/notations; and options for comprehension. Within mul-
tiple means of representation, teachers will need to consider how students best
perceive information, how to present information in multiple ways, and if mul-
timedia could make abstract concepts more concrete. Vocabulary, critical fea-
tures, and big ideas should be emphasized or highlighted for students, with
clear connections made to students’ background knowledge and perspectives.
Kieran and Anderson 5
Multiple means of action and expression. Multiple means of action and expres-
sion includes the multiple ways that teachers can formatively or summatively
evaluate students, as well as engage students in self-evaluation. The guide-
lines that further delineate the area of action and expression include provid-
ing options for physical action, expression, and communication; and executive
functions. Within this UDL area, there are many considerations for students’
use of technology, assistive technology, and communication devices on class-
room tasks. In addition to students’ technology use, however, teachers also
need to consider multiple ways to assess students, beyond paper and pencil
tasks. Teachers must also provide students with opportunities to build fluency
with new skills. Within this, students will be most successful if assessment
for learning occurs; when students receive frequent, specific, corrective feed-
back as they learn, and have opportunities to self-evaluate their learning then
learning increases (Hall, Vue, Strangman, & Meyer, 2004; Stiggins, 2004).
With the emphasis on building executive functioning skills, teachers must
develop a student-centered learning environment; learning activities should
be designed to increase students’ engagement with and self-management of
the learning processes (National Center on UDL, 2013; Villegas & Lucas,
2002). When implemented well, students are actively involved in making
meaning of new information, using learning strategies, evaluating their
understanding of class content; and monitoring their progress.
Multiple means of engagement. Multiple means of engagement encourages
educators to consider ways to increase students’ interest, motivation, and per-
severance with learning as well as promote high expectations for every
learner. Reasons for students’ disengagement from and dropping out of
school are related to a lack of academic success. Achievement gaps lead to
students’ dissonance and discouragement with school. Without appropriate
levels of challenge and support, the achievement gap widens through elemen-
tary and middle school; behavioral issues that stem from school frustration
will perpetuate the problem of school as a negative space and experience
(Gooden, 2013). The guidelines for multiple means of engagement prompt
teachers to consider ways to create student-centered learning, including the
use of student choice on authentic and relevant learning tasks (Rao & Meo,
2016). Persistence is developed through goal-setting, varied levels of demand,
collaboration with peers, and the development of coping skills/strategies. By
varying instructional groupings and encouraging students to engage in oral
discourse with their peers, students increased engagement, new language,
vocabulary, and the zone of proximal development (Doran, 2015; Vygotsky,
1978). A safe space with limited threats and distractions maximized peer-to-
peer learning (National Center on UDL, 2013). To support students with
6 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
self-management and self-regulation, teachers should provide feedback to
students in a manner that encourages mastery, so that learning is ongoing.
Teaching Every Learner
Flexible instructional materials, delivery, and assessment were beneficial in
classrooms with academically diverse learners (Browder, Mims, Spooner,
Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Lee, 2009; Dymond et al., 2006; Lieber, Horn, Palmer, &
Fleming, 2008; Marino, 2009; Pearson, 2015). UDL as a framework to
increase students’ engagement and learning outcomes has focused on stu-
dents with special education needs, but UDL was designed as a means to
facilitate instruction for every learner. Rao and Meo (2016) noted that UDLs
flexibility allowed educators to select elements of UDL to meet students’
needs within their content and context for learning. Edyburn (2010) cau-
tioned that educators must be knowledgeable in the varied ways that their
students are diverse to design and plan instruction that truly addresses the
requirements of every learner. Steele (2010) further warned that even with
differentiation, a mismatch between instruction, materials, and assessment
could occur when teachers were aware of how linguistic and/or cultural
diversity affected students in the classroom.
There are varied definitions of CRT practices. Aronson (2016) noted that
culturally relevant education included high expectations for every learner,
cultural competence, sociopolitical awareness, and the classroom as a com-
munity. Piazza, Rao, and Protacio (2015) found that dialogue and opportuni-
ties for collaboration between learners, visual representations, and
inquiry-based learning provided the foundation for culturally responsive
literacy practices. Villegas and Lucas (2002) indicated that multiple levels
of awareness were necessary for teachers to be culturally responsive. This
includes knowledge of personal biases, students’ backgrounds/strengths,
how the learning environment should build from students’ strengths; and
how to bring about change in school systems. Hammond (2015) developed
a view of culturally relevant education that synthesized all of these concepts
with themes from brain-based research in learning. According to Hammond,
CRT) has four overarching themes that guide teachers to take a strength-
based approach to diversity in the classroom. Each of these topics is com-
prised of multiple facets for teachers’ consideration when planning to teach
diverse learners:
Kieran and Anderson 7
1. Awareness
2. Learning partnerships
3. Information processing
4. Community of learners and learning environment
Awareness. Hammond (2015) indicated awareness includes an understanding
of culture in society including the levels of culture, cultural archetypes, and
the sociopolitical contexts of race and culture. Educators must be aware of
principles in developmental milestones in learning. Awareness also includes
the teacher’s knowledge of their personal cultural experiences, perspectives,
and biases (Richards, Brown, & Forde, 2004; Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Lad-
son-Billings (1995) described these components of awareness as cultural
competence and critical consciousness. The goal of this awareness is to rec-
ognize systemic oppression and understand one’s role in changing these pat-
terns to promote social justice and systems change. If teachers do not possess
this level of mindfulness, it would be difficult to facilitate the development of
students’ critical literacy skills (Freire, 2000). Mindfulness, therefore, also
refers to developing students’ awareness of systemic bias, and how to move
away from the status quo.
When institutions at any level become disengaged from the populations
they serve, the possibility increases to become self-serving. Educators should
be involved in their students’ communities to achieve awareness of their stu-
dents’ realities and better understand how the school’s structures, policies,
and practices will positively or negatively affect their students and the com-
munity (Ginsberg, 2005; Yosso, 2005).
Learning partnerships. Learning partnerships in culturally relevant education
reshape teacher and student relationships; changes in this dynamic are
designed to increase students’ ownership of learning and sense of efficacy in
the learning process. In establishing a culturally responsive learning environ-
ment, teachers reduce the threats related to cultural stereotypes and lower
expectations of diverse learners (Gay, 2002; Steele, 2010). A balance exists
between students’ responsibility for learning and the levels of teacher’s sup-
port and challenge in the classroom. Thus, learning environments become
student-centered; teachers provide feedback to students that encourage
growth and mastery of new skills (Hammond, 2015). Learning partnerships
should be multifaceted to include other students, parents, and the community
to increase ownership of success in and out of school.
Community of learners and the class environment. Building from the learning
partnerships facet is the fourth area of culturally relevant education: building
8 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
a community of learners. This area connects to the safety of the classroom
environment, and the procedures that manage and restore justice when con-
flicts occur. The classroom should be a safe space for learning, respectful
collaboration, questions, mistakes, and conflicts (Ginsberg, 2005). Steele
(2010) described the phenomenon and impacts of stereotype threat in Whis-
tling Vivaldi, which outlined the results of a series of studies on groups of
students who have traditionally been marginalized and stereotyped based on
one or more of their identities. Participants included women in math, African
Americans or Latinos in K12 and higher education settings, and even White
men in sports typically dominated by African Americans. Typically high-
achieving and motivated test subjects were used to explore the impact of the
pressure to perform for these groups with and without stereotyping or identity
threats “looming” in the background. Steele (2010) found when a threat of a
biased activity or evaluation was present the results of the assessment were
universal: The group receiving the stereotype threat underperformed and
consistently an achievement gap was present.
Information processing. The area of information processing strongly correlates
to UDL principles; teachers are prompted to select materials and modes of
instruction that are accessible to their audience. This includes considerations
related to the material’s level of challenge, and cultural relevance; modes of
instruction, student engagement, authentic connections between school and
community environments; and mastery-oriented feedback. Teachers should
also provide students with direct instruction in cognitive strategies so that
they can self-monitor their progress and understanding. In addition, self-
monitoring links to learning partnerships through adding another layer of stu-
dent responsibility and competence in learning. Ginsberg (2005) noted that
when learning was relevant to students’ lives and perspectives and provided
for challenging applications of learning, students were more likely to be
motivated and engaged in learning.
Furthermore, how students process information relates to how they learn
from and manage mistakes. Hammond (2015) emphasized mistakes as oppor-
tunities for the greatest amount of learning. Once a student has developed a
negative self-image as a learner, a replacement narrative must be taught to dis-
rupt the negative self-talk. Rather than viewing a failure as a result of race or
culture, instead develop the understanding that new concepts and skills often
require multiple and varied opportunities for practice. When teachers value the
process of learning and not just final grades, students’ motivation for learning
and risk-taking in learning increased (Hammond, 2015; Ricci, 2013). Teachers
who praise effort, metacognition, task completion, and students’ questions will
deepen students’ learning and foster the belief in the brain’s plasticity.
Kieran and Anderson 9
Van Garderen and Whittaker (2006) also reviewed the use of UDL princi-
ples in combination with equity pedagogy when planning for their culturally
and linguistically diverse high school social studies class. Multicultural instruc-
tion was found to reduce the achievement gap. Van Garderen and Whittaker
emphasized the importance of knowledge construction, methods used to reduce
prejudices, and the systemic practices that perpetuate inequality. Although
Margolis et al. (2016) stated found that students’ cultures and experiences
needed to occur in all aspects of the school environment, the emphasis of this
article is on UDL and CRT practices in the classroom. “Optimal motivation in
the brain occurs under appropriate levels of stress, where the learner experi-
ences ‘anticipation,’ but avoids dis-stress (too much anxiety)” (Margolis et al.,
2016). When teachers consider their students’ cultures and contexts, they can
implement appropriate levels of challenge and support.
Overlap Between UDL and CRT
UDL and CRT overlap in many key areas. For example, following guidelines
in the multiple means of engagement, teachers reduce threats and distractions
from the learning environment. Regardless of race, culture, or language, indi-
viduals’ brains are “hardwired” to “avoid threats to safety at all costs”
(Hammond, 2015, p. 37). Hammond noted that this was important because
the limbic region of the brain house both the amygdala and the hippocampus.
The amygdala is responsible for the flight, fight, or freeze response to threats
and perceived threats. When the amygdala is activated, it expands, providing
less room in the brain for the hippocampus, which results in diminished space
for working memory (Hammond, 2015).
Threats and stressors in the classroom can include lower expectations by
the teacher, devaluing of cultural capital for groups outside the dominant cul-
ture and systemic inequality (Parsons, 2005). Students of color often do not
consider schools safe places; 82% of teachers are White, only 2% of teachers
are African American males (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). DeCuir-
Gunby et al. (2010) stated, “Developing this sense of belonging becomes
difficult for African Americans since the school context has a history of racial
discrimination that has contributed to the achievement gap” (p. 184).
However, when schools and teachers foster an environment in which students
feel safe, valued, and celebrated are more likely to be successful (Fiedler
et al., 2008; Gay, 2002; Hammond, 2015; Steele, 2010). Table 1 highlights
research-based instruction grounded in culturally responsive pedagogies and
explicitly connects these supports to the UDL framework. These guiding
principles focus teachers on potential barriers within instruction, assessment,
and materials rather than the view of student-centered deficits.
10 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
Table 1. Connecting UDL and CRT.
UDL principles Explicit connections to CRT
Multiple means of
provide options
Language and
Visual, auditory, and multimedia representations to reduce
barriers to print
Collective and collaborative learning to discuss new content,
opportunities to hear and use vocabulary, learn from peers
Explicit instruction and concrete/visual representations of
new vocabulary (Doran, 2015; Piazza, Rao, & Protacio, 2015)
Supporting digital and visual literacies as foundational to
students’ learning and motivation to learn (Richardson,
Morgan, & Fleener, 2012)
Reshaping the curriculum to include resources with multiple
perspectives throughout the year (not during a special
week or month), including race/race history as part of the
curriculum (Fiedler etal., 2008; Howard & Navarro, 2016)
Draw on primary resources from multiple perspectives
Cross-cultural conversations that challenge the dominant
perspective (Howard & Navarro, 2016)
Diversity (in the classroom and the community) is viewed
as a strength, a resource to extend understandings of
historical and social perspectives
Teachers’ attitudes and instructional approaches
demonstrate that intelligence is expandable, rather than set
(Hammond, 2015; Ricci, 2013)
Multiple means
of action and
provide options
Physical action
Expressive skills
and fluency
Honoring different methods of students’ sharing knowledge,
such as storytelling, family histories and biographies, chronicles,
and other narratives; valuing experiential knowledge and
traditions (Howard & Navarro, 2016; Yosso, 2005)
Acknowledging both standard English and local discourse
styles, supporting students with code switching for different
kinds of communication demands. Selecting the language for
the task is like selecting an outfit for an event based on the
event’s formality (Crystal, 2004).
Provide opportunities for collaboration and reciprocal
teaching, to increase students’ oral language usage, fluency,
and comprehension (Doran, 2015; Piazza etal., 2015)
A community of learners (especially for students to build
their narrative)
Corrective feedback from the teacher is clearly and explicitly
framed by and connected to high standards (Hammond, 2015)
Use metacognitive strategies to change students’ negative
thought processes when they encounter learning challenges
Students use metacognitive strategies to monitor and
increase their understandings
Kieran and Anderson 11
UDL principles Explicit connections to CRT
Multiple means
of engagement
provide options
Sustaining effort
and persistence
Designs assignments that allow students to construct
knowledge and make meaning of their world
Use examples and analogies from students’ lives (Villegas &
Lucas, 2002)
Allow for student choice on assignments/topics to increase
personal relevance (Ginsberg, 2005)
Promote the use of cultural capital from within the
community for mentoring and learning (Yosso, 2005)
Promote active citizenship (locally and/or globally) for
authentic problem-solving and promote social justice
(DeCuir-Gunby, DeVance, Taliaferro, & Greenfield, 2010)
Engaged in sustained thought with critical material
Students create affirmations/express their values associated
with learning to reduce the self-image threat (Steele, 2010)
Reducing threats and distractions: supportive relationships,
communicate high expectations in the students’ ability in
connection to high/rigorous standards (Steele, 2010; Tatum,
Promote an environment of mutual respect (among
students and between students and teachers; Ginsberg,
2005; Richards, Brown, & Forde, 2004)
Promote growth mind-set with students: change negative
self-talk regarding “mistakes” as opportunities for and a
part of learning, place an emphasis on effort (not ability),
and the malleability of intelligence (Tatum, 1997)
Positive and proactive behavior supports are in place,
behavioral expectations are clear (Fiedler etal., 2008)
Note. UDL = universal design for learning; CRT = culturally responsive teaching.
Table 1. (continued)
Expanding the UDL Framework to Specifically
Consider Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
The suggested culturally responsive elements demonstrate how instructional
planning is further enhanced when acknowledging how race, cultural, and
linguistic differences that could affect students’ learning. This understanding
is an essential prerequisite for teachers in urban settings. Table 1 does not
contain an exhaustive list of culturally responsive considerations, but con-
nects the features of CRT that might be overlooked when planning.
Educators have erroneously described both UDL and CRT as simply good
teaching (Edyburn, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 1995). However, both UDL and
CRT require teachers to be aware of their students as individuals and plan
12 Education and Urban Society 00(0)
supports that address their learners’ unique learning needs. This mindfulness
includes the knowledge of students’ strengths and abilities; backgrounds,
skills, cultures, and preferences. Both frameworks guide teachers to look at
the benefits of their students’ diversity, rather than viewing students through
a deficit lens (Villegas & Lucas, 2002; Yosso, 2005).
In addition, teachers must be aware of their personal biases to ensure high
expectations of every learner and encourage their diverse students’ cultural
capital from a strength-based perspective. Without the knowledge of how their
experiences and culture affect their views and attitudes, teachers may try to be
“colorblind” in the classroom, or even think that cultural responsiveness is
merely an additional or unnecessary demand placed on educators (Gay, 2002;
Pollock, Bocala, Deckman, & Dickstein-Staub, 2016). Pollock et al. (2016)
noted that preservice teachers who felt most overwhelmed with CRT viewed
the principles as something extra they needed to remember to do in addition to
everything else they were supposed to teach, rather than seamlessly integrat-
ing CRT into the lessons for successful teaching. When planned proactively,
UDL with CRT, combine as part of the blueprint for increasing students’ suc-
cess in meeting teachers’ high expectations for the intended learning out-
comes. Such enhancements to the traditional UDL framework assist teachers
in the urban settings with more explicit proactive planning for every student.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publi-
cation of this article.
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Author Biographies
Laura Kieran is an assistant professor of special education at Drake University in
Des Moines, Iowa. Her research interests focus on increasing social justice for diverse
learners with emphasis on critical pedagogies for students with opportunity gaps in
the classroom.
Christine Anderson is an associate professor of special education at Western Illinois
University. Her research interests include educator and professional development,
juvenile justice, and trauma-informed pedagogies to support learners and educators.
She provides training to educators in the Midwest to implement positive behavioral
supports in schools systems.
... • Multiple means of representation helps teachers to address the different ways students perceive and comprehend information by providing options and scaffolding using multimedia and multisensory meaning construction to facilitate communication. • Multiple means of action and expression focuses on how students develop and demonstrate their learning by providing options for physical actions, expression of knowledge and skills, and increasing capacity to become independent learners with supports for executive functioning (CAST, 2018;Kieran & Anderson, 2019). ...
... For educators to be successful with UDL, they need to apply it in culturally equitable and inclusive ways. The end goal is for educators to think flexibly about learner characteristics, assessment, and engagement and the barriers students may have in accessing the instruction and materials (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). ...
... • Multiple means of representation helps teachers to address the different ways students perceive and comprehend information by providing options and scaffolding using multimedia and multisensory meaning construction to facilitate communication. • Multiple means of action and expression focuses on how students develop and demonstrate their learning by providing options for physical actions, expression of knowledge and skills, and increasing capacity to become independent learners with supports for executive functioning (CAST, 2018;Kieran & Anderson, 2019). ...
... For educators to be successful with UDL, they need to apply it in culturally equitable and inclusive ways. The end goal is for educators to think flexibly about learner characteristics, assessment, and engagement and the barriers students may have in accessing the instruction and materials (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). ...
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In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the use of AI software, and some educational institutions are even beginning to ban AI software from mitigating these risks. However, some scholars and researchers are exploring the potential benefits of this technology, including improving self-reflection, critical thinking, and inquiry practice. In the last few months, the recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have led to an increase not only in teachers’ and learners’ use of AI-based tools and websites for language learning and teaching but also in worries about AI-written content,. One of the existing challenges is using ChatGPT in writing and using the output produced in learner work without acknowledging the human contribution. Learners can use AI tools to create written assignments and gain an unacceptable advantage over other learners, which will also raise concerns about the educational equity. The current chapter aims to provide a brief review of AI-written content detectors. In addition, the chapter will also point out the benefits and limitations of using these content detectors and some implications. Some words of caution while using them since their reliability might vary and lead to false positives.
... One way this could be done is by adding visual aids, and/or changeable font size (as will be shown later). Once this principle is implemented, learners will have various information presentation methods, such as written and spoken languages, videos, and images (CAST, 2018; Kieran & Anderson, 2019). Lastly, the principle of action and expression helps teachers provide learners with ways to demonstrate what they know and are capable of in multiple ways (CAST, 2018;Evmenova, 2018). ...
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This article examines using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to enhance English language development in multilingual learners, focusing on implementing technology. By providing insights into effective UDL implementation, it aims to support educators and practitioners in empowering Multilingual Learners (MLLs) to achieve language proficiency and academic success. Drawing on previously published research, we explore the benefits and challenges of UDL implementation for MLLs in ESL/EFL contexts, offer potential strategies for UDL and technology integration, and provide a practical example with CommonLit integration.
... Initially grounded in supporting neurodiverse students, UDL is a framework of research-based practices that guide teachers through pedagogical decision making (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). These UDL practices were created by researchers in the mid-1990s to bring computer technology to students with disabilities (Doran, 2015). ...
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The author of this article utilized a Critical Race Theory framework to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional technology and STEM opportunities for girls and students of color in their role as a K-5 Instructional Technology Facilitator (ITF). By defining Critical Race Theory, the role of the ITF can be leveraged to provide equitable and inclusive opportunities to learning environments. Rather than a focus on the technology tools themselves, this article offers an opportunity to explore the implicit biases that exist within each educator and leader to shift pedagogical practice and ensure that instructional technology and STEM is accessible to every student, especially those that have been historically marginalized. This article also offers an opportunity to shift thinking from technology being 'inherently good' to considering who is benefitting from technology and why. An ITF’s lens can influence a more inclusive practice for the classrooms they support and can be champions for culturally responsive Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to reach all students. Though the focus in this article is on the ITF role, concepts can also be applied to any coach or leadership role within a K-12 setting.
... The principle of providing multiple means of engagement (i.e., UDL Principle 3) focuses on designing various classroom activities where teachers motivate students and stimulate their learning interests and perseverance through hands-on, creative and meaningful instruction (CAST, 2018a). It is imperative to consider student choices as to how they access learning content and how they express knowledge in a student-centred learning climate (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). Providing opportunities for students to work and communicate collaboratively with clear learning goals, roles and responsibilities is also necessary in developing an inclusive educational environment (Rose et al., 2012). ...
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Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 is underpinned by the provision of quality inclusive education for all young persons, including persons with disabilities. The universal design for learning (UDL) framework provides the basis for establishing an inclusive pedagogical learning environment in classrooms. However, implementing such an inclusive pedagogical framework continues to be profoundly challenging across all countries, including Australia. Teacher attitude is the most important construct in efforts to create inclusive educational contexts. The aim of this study was to examine secondary school teachers’ attitudes towards the UDL framework in Australia. One hundred and twenty mainstream secondary classroom teachers in Sydney completed an online survey. The mean values and standard deviations of a self-designed UDL framework were calculated to examine teacher attitudes. Correlations and multiple regressions were conducted to verify the relationship between teachers’ attitudes and their background variables. The main results indicated that Australian secondary school teacher attitudes towards the UDL framework were generally positive, although they still had some practical concerns, such as having inflexible ideas about how to provide instructions. The findings provide useful insights for developing professional teacher training to promote inclusive education, where the UDL framework is a lens for interpreting inclusive education.
Culturally responsive pedagogy approaches in online learning incorporates a focus on the diverse backgrounds and experiences of learners and aims to create an inclusive learning environment. Using diverse teaching materials, incorporating cultural experiences into course content, and providing opportunities for students to share their experiences and perspectives, allows educators to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. Ongoing reflection and self-assessment by educators further helps to ensure that their teaching practices are inclusive and responsive to the needs of all students. Seeking feedback from students, colleagues, and other experts in the field, as well as engaging in professional development and training result in opportunities for continual self-reflection and enhancement of instructional practices. Educators who foster an environment that respects and celebrates the diversity of their students offers access to learning spaces that provide a more engaging and meaningful learning experience for all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on education, with Mathematics instruction being no exception. In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, Mathematics instructors have had to adapt their teaching strategies to engage students in virtual or hybrid learning environments. One key factor in the success of this adaptation is the instructors' level of self-efficacy and self-confidence in teaching Mathematics. This chapter explores two strategies to enhance self-efficacy in Mathematics instruction in the post-COVID era: inclusion and technology. Inclusion strategies such as understanding the diverse learning needs of students, using inclusive pedagogical approaches, and promoting collaboration and a supportive classroom environment are essential to enhance self-efficacy. Furthermore, technology strategies such as using online teaching platforms and resources, professional development on the use of technology in Mathematics instruction, and interactive and engaging technology-based learning activities can also improve self-efficacy.
The Council for Exceptional Children studied the profession of special education and found that a substantial number of special educators rated their confidence as lower in culturally responsive instruction strategies (Fowler, et al., 2019). The recommendations in this article highlight how to confront the intersection of racism and ableism and eradicate deficit ideology in educational structures. Leading with an equity lens requires a conceptual framework and diversifying the workforce, adopting a theoretical framework, engaging with diverse students and families, developing skills through systemic professional development, and using practices such as culturally and linguistically sustaining practices, and anti-racist Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the Fuller approach in teaching reading among Grade 3 pupils in Domnar-Lopez Copada Integrated Indigenous People School, Maasim 3 district, Division of Sarangani, for the School Year 2021-2022. The study used an experimental single group utilizing pre-test and post-test. Frequency counts and percentage with the used of t-test to determine the significant difference in the pre-test and post-test scores of Grade 3 pupils utilizing Fuller approach in enhancing the reading capacity. It was found out that fuller approach was effective in enhancing the reading capacity of Grade 3 pupils by the used of different fuller materials. Article visualizations: </p
English language learners (ELLs) are a fast-growing and diverse student population in the United States. Students with disabilities and English language learners are significant subgroups in public schools across the United States, with growing numbers on an annual basis. Educating students with disabilities and ELLs requires an advanced level of instruction to meet their unique educational needs. This chapter will identify instructional strategies to support both subgroups while keeping their educational and cultural needs at the forefront. Culturally Responsive Teaching can provide guidance for teachers to specifically meet the needs of dually identified students. Targeted suggestions for professional development were identified for novice teachers and suggestions for future research on dually identified students were provided.
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The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework can be used to proactively design lessons that address learner variability. Using UDL guidelines, teachers can integrate flexible options and supports that ensure that standards-based lessons are accessible to a range of learners in their classrooms. This article presents a process that teachers can use as they develop standards-based lesson plans. By “unwrapping” academic standards and applying UDL during the lesson planning process, teachers can identify clear goals aligned with an academic standard and develop flexible methods, assessments, and materials that address the needs and preferences of varied learners. General educators and special educators can use this process to develop inclusive lesson plans that address all learners, with and without disabilities.
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Despite reports of already practicing K-12 teachers’ attempts to teach for critical social justice in their classrooms, there is little connection between teacher education programs and/or the impact of teacher practice in the classroom. This article presents data collected over 3 years from one teacher enrolled in an urban-multicultural teacher education program who transitioned into her first years of teaching. Findings revealed that the teacher implemented culturally relevant education through (a) a caring community, (b) holding high expectations, (c) cultural competence, and (d) sociopolitical awareness as a teacher. Barriers the teacher faced as well as lessons for teacher educators are shared.
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As the nation’s schools become increasingly diverse along ethnic and racial lines, examining and understanding the racial complexities in the United States is more germane now than ever in the nation’s history. To that end, critical race theory (CRT) has been a transformative conceptual, methodological, and theoretical construct that has assisted researchers in problematizing race in education. As we reflect on 20 years of CRT, it is essential to examine in what ways, if any, CRT is influencing school practice and policy. Given the disparate educational outcomes for students of color, researchers have to inquire about the influence of CRT on the lived experiences of students in schools. In this article, the authors lay out the historical trajectory of CRT, discuss its influence on educational research, and then evaluate to what extent, if any CRT has had on school policy and practice. The article will conclude with research, practice, and policy implications that may influence CRT’s development over the next 20-year period.
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This study examines culturally responsive pedagogy across the fields of special education, multicultural literacy education, and teaching English language learners. A systematic review of recommendations identified culturally responsive practices in five key areas: dialogue, collaboration, visual representation, explicit instruction, and inquiry. Educators are encouraged to adopt a critical and responsive stance that incorporates students' cultural knowledge and lived experiences when implementing these recommendations. Creating classrooms that promote culturally responsive and effective instruction is grounded in the definition of literacy as a social practice and leads to more equitable learning opportunities in all areas.
This article provides an overview of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, which is based on brain-structure research and which incorporates multiple means of instruction, action and expression, and engagement. The article describes the relevance of this framework to linguistically diverse and culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners, and it provides a set of scenario-based examples of how UDL might help educators to implement effective instruction for a CLD learner in an inclusive setting. The paper makes additional suggestions for building on UDL principles to design linguistically accessible instruction for CLD learners.
This article presents both sides of the debate as to whether urban teachers need structure or freedom, and then takes a stand on urban teaching in the current high-stakes assessment climate. First, we trace the 30-year development of American educational policy in the area of structuring teaching. Then, we present research from proponents of structuring the work of teaching, who argue that education, and particularly urban education, needs to be standardized and monitored. We then share literature from teacher freedom proponents who argue that educators need to adapt their curriculum and pedagogical approaches based on students’ needs and their own professional judgment. We conclude by arguing that urban teaching needs to be structured to promote freedom, in light of recent developments in the often-ignored fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology.
The acclaimed social psychologist offers an insider’s look at his research and groundbreaking findings on stereotypes and identity.Claude M. Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.