UDL Critical Elements

Developed in Collaboration with Boyne City Middle School, Charlevoix-Emmet ISD, Harbor Springs Middle School, Reese Middle School, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) represents a paradigm shift in education that has the potential to improve outcomes for a broad range of students. Alt+Shift, with collaborative partners, has identified four critical elements intended to serve as a foundation for implementation and further research. Instruction aligned with the framework of UDL must minimally include each of the four critical elements shown below.

Clear Goals

  • Goals and desired outcomes of the lesson/unit are aligned to the established content standards.
  • Teachers have a clear understanding of the goal(s) of the lesson and specific student outcomes.
  • Goals are communicated in ways that are understandable by every student in the classroom, and can be expressed by them.


Inclusive, Intentional Planning

  • Intentional proactive planning addressing distinct student needs.
    • Addresses individual differences in background knowledge, affect, strategies, etc. (Consider what students know, strengths and weaknesses, and what engages them).
    • Recognizes that every student is unique and plans accordingly, paying attention to students in the margins (i.e., struggling and advanced) in anticipation that a broader range of students will benefit.
  • Addresses the instructional demands including goals, methods, materials, and assessments while considering available resources including personnel.
    • Maintaining rigor of the lesson while providing necessary supports.
    • Reducing the barriers in the curriculum by embedding supports during initial planning.


Flexible Methods and Materials

  • Teacher uses a variety of media and methods to present information and content.
  • A variety of methods are used to engage students (e.g., provide choice, address student interest) and promote their ability to monitor their own learning (e.g., goal setting, self-assessment, and reflection).
  • Students use a variety of media and methods to demonstrate their knowledge.


Timely Progress Monitoring

  • Formative assessments are frequent and timely enough to plan/redirect instruction and support.
  • A variety of formative and summative assessments (e.g., projects, oral tests, written tests) are used to assess the learning in the classroom.

UDL Critical Elements by Alt+Shift is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License