2.1 Introduction to Universally Designed Assessments

Universally designed assessments create flexible and valid assessments through the application of UDL principles.  Applied to assessment, the goal of UDL is for all students to demonstrate relevant skills, knowledge and abilities without barriers and without compromising the validity of the evaluation results (Ketterlin-Geller & Johnstone, 2006). In this chapter, you will learn how to remove assessment barriers while designing assessments that are flexible and rigorous. Not only will students benefit from universally designed assessments, but the results will provide more reliable feedback for your ongoing course development.

Benefits of Universally Designed Assessments:

  • Assessments become more accurate measures of intended learning outcomes
  • Assessment is inclusive and transparent, so students have equitable opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
  • Students are provided with equivalent rather than identical opportunities to demonstrate their learning
  • Validity and reliability of the measurement remain intact
  • Develops student’s ability to learn effectively and prepares students to be self-directed, reflective, and engaged learners
  • Need for formal exam accommodations by students with access needs is diminished

This chapter leads you through the following steps for applying UDL to assessments:

  1. Clearly define learning outcomes
  2. Create an assessment plan
  3. Develop strategies for engaging variable learners in assessments
  4. Create accessible assessments
  5. Design rubrics with transparent criteria

The following short video from CAST offers an introduction to UDL and Assessment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Separate means of achieving from learning outcomes.
  2. Apply strategies for engaging diverse students in assessments.
  3. Apply strategies for incorporating multiple means of representation in assessments.
  4. Apply strategies for incorporating multiple means of action & expression in assessments.


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Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step Copyright © 2022 by Sara Dzaman; Derek Fenlon; Julie Maier; and Toni Marchione is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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