Multiple means of engagement refers to different opportunities for student involvement (e.g., interactive activities, group discussions, online discussion boards). This principle reflects the idea that students have different motivations to engage in learning. For instance, some students are highly motivated by spontaneity and innovation while others may be uncomfortable in such learning environments. Some students may seek active social learning forums while others will retreat from such environments. Students who are fully engaged in learning will be enthusiastic about applying their knowledge and will have a desire to learn more on their own. This principle also refers to offering varying levels of challenge, fostering community and collaboration, and supporting students in self-regulating their learning.
Multiple means of representation is about providing learners various ways to access and engage with course materials and information. In its simplest form, this could mean offering textbooks in audio or multimedia formats. This principle also refers to how students comprehend information in different forms, such as decoding syntax, vocabulary, notation, symbols, and disciplinary language. The goal is to support students in using multiple representations and developing fluency in traversing across them. Offering flexibility in presenting information also acknowledges differences in how learners comprehend and perceive information. For example, students with visual impairment may find print materials inaccessible, and students with diverse language, cultural backgrounds, and perceptive abilities may encounter barriers to information when instructors assume common background.
The principle also includes pedagogical approaches to a topic or concept. An instructor could decide to give a concept overview (lecture) followed by an example and an application of the concept through an in-class exercise. Other examples include statistics, case study, and expert opinion. If one approach is ineffective, a different approach may work better.
Multiple means of expression encourages students to demonstrate their learning through various forms (e.g., exams, multimedia, concept maps, papers, projects). This principle highlights executive functioning, where students apply what they learn strategically. That is, it involves finding, creating, using, and organizing information. This process can include graduated levels of support, and using tools and technology. Students may find that they are able to express themselves more proficiently in one medium than in another. It may be possible to incorporate graded assignments into a course that allows students to select alternative formats. Other opportunities for multiple means of action and expression include note-taking, in-class assignments, and feedback from different sources.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that guides the design of courses and learning environments to appeal to the largest number of learners. This guide outlines the principles of UDL and provides examples of how it could be implemented in university courses.