Exploring the student voice within Universal Design for Learning work
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Universal Design for Learning
One of the reasons that makes Universal Design for Learning (UDL) particularly appealing to the post-secondary sector is the fact that it is entirely focused on the design reflection of the instructor, and does not require diagnostic information about individual students (Gradel & Edson, 2009). Unlike differentiation which normally unfolds when a teacher is faced with the specific needs of learners in their class, the reflection around UDL can occur in the abstract, before an instructor ever meets a class (Novak Educational Consultancy, 2018). This is enormously freeing, and particularly congenial to the post-secondary sector where lecturers may never have the opportunity over the course of a semester to uncover their students’ diversity. Instead, one can hypothesize about barriers and remove proactively with the use of inclusive design (Rose, Harbour, Johnston, Daley & Abarbanell, 2006). This, however, also creates a significant danger: the possibility that UDL now becomes conceptualized with no consideration for the student voice. This paper will examine three dimensions which make the learner voice essential in the UDL process. It is a call to action, which encourages UDL advocates to carefully consider re-centering UDL implementation in higher education (HE) on the student voice. It is indeed crucial that it does not lose an essential part of its flavour and intentions, by dismissing an essential stakeholder.
This article is openly available at https://www.ahead.ie/journal/Exploring-the-Student-Voice-within-Universal-Design-for-Learning-Work.