UDL Principle II: Multiple Means of Expression

Provide options for how students express what they have learned.

Acessibility cartoon - one size does not fil all

Source:  https://assistivetechnologytidbits.wikispaces.com/About+UDL


Students working Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. For example, individuals with significant movement impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy), those who struggle with strategic and organizational abilities (executive function disorders), those who have language barriers, all approach learning tasks very differently. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech (National Center on Universal Design for Learning, 2012).

It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization - another area in which learners can differ. In reality, there is not one means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression can greatly improve learning in your class. To provide multiple and flexible means of expression is to provide students alternatives for demonstrating what they have learned.

Allowing students to choose can be an effective method for students to demonstrate their learning, however, there are times when the purpose of the assignment is to challenge the student to go beyond their comfort zone and try something new in order to expand their abilities. An option is to provide, for example, four different types of assignments in the semester and students are required to complete three. Another example is having a test or exam that is divided into sections where each section has different types of questions such as, multiple choice, short answer, case study, essay or calculations. Each section is weighted the same. Students must complete three of the five sections to complete the test.


Multiple Means of Expression


Do you create a learning environment in which students can express their comprehension in multiple ways?


UDL Guideline


You encourage students to demonstrate knowledge and skills in ways other than traditional tests and exams (e.g., written essays, projects, portfolios, journals).


Use a variety of evaluation methods to allow students to express what they know in multiple ways. Example: Introductory Biology may include quizzes, case studies, model building, and oral presentation rather than just traditional tests and a final exam.

You provide students with choice in evaluation methods to demonstrate their learning.


Provide students options to demonstrate mastery of the course learning outcomes.  


Provide students the opportunity to choose which type of assignment they would like to complete, for example, you may choose one of the following evaluation methods:   a poster presentation, research report or creating a video.

You incorporate technologies that facilitate class communication and participation.


Use of discussion boards or blogs also allow students who need more time to reflect on a topic and have the ability to participate.


Use of virtual clickers allows all students to participate without feeling centred out. 



Professor Kari Kumar provides more detail about
how she incorporates UDL in her health science course (2 minutes).


The following Assigment shows how we can give students choice while still meeting the Course Learning Outcomes.

 Sample Assignment using UDL guideline Multiple Means of Expression




Strategic Network

Strategic brain network Strategic networks are required for executive functioning such as: selective attention, planning, organization, and self-monitoring. They guide our behaviours and in response to learning, are used to set goals, focus, and monitor progress. If there are problems, it is the strategic network that will evaluate the situation and develop a plan (Rose & Strangman, 2007). Digital media can provide opportun ties for multiple means of practice in order for a student to develop the strategic skills required to learn the concept. Links to different models or modes can assist a student's understanding of the concept. This enables the student to create better mental models of the concept, and therefore, be more strategic in further learning such as determining relevance or concentrating on more difficult aspects, etc. 

Communication technologies can be used to give immediate feedback such as the discussion board, email, Skype, online office hours. Technology has improved accessibility to the professor enabling quicker clarification of issues, connection to other students, and collaboration (Rose, et al, 2002). 



Additional Resources:

Faculty Focus - Think Alouds shed light on how students grapple with content

Faculty Focus: A Role for Student Choice in Assignments?




National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2012). UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0. Available at: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle2

Rose, D., Meyer, A., Strangman, N., and Rappolt, G. (2002). Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Alexandra, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Rose, D. and Strangman, N. (2007). Universal Design for Learning: meeting the challenge of individual learning differences through a neurocognitive perspective. Universal Access in the Information Society, 5:381-391. DOI 10.1007/s10209-006-0062-8