1.4 UDL Principle 2: Multiple Means of Representation

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Challenge

Continue your work on the How Do You Teach? Checklist that you started earlier.

Complete the second section of the checklist to consider the ways you currently create a learning environment in which ideas and information are represented in multiple ways.

What does Multiple Means of Representation mean?

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 access needs may encounter barriers to information when educators assume common backgrounds. In a learning environment that applies this principle, material and content are presented in a variety of ways at the outset.

The principle also includes pedagogical approaches to a topic or concept. An educator 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 of approaches include statistics, case studies, and expert opinion. If one approach is ineffective, a different approach may work better.

USask Lens:

“I understand memorization and retaining concepts specifically is a really large aspect of learning, but to integrate a concept really fully you have to be able to connect it to other ideas. I would like to see more of an emphasis on making sure that the connections between different units in course material are presented really clearly to students, because that provides a really good line for them to start drawing their own connections and contribute to their own retention and learning over the course.”

-Student testimonial from the Wellness Strategy Report

Utilizing multiple means of representation is one way to ensure that “connections between different units … are presented really clearly to students”.  Multiple means of representation provide all students with the opportunity to access, engage, and make sense of concepts.

The following short video from the Southern Illinois Professional Development Center offers an overview of this UDL principle.

What might “Multiple Means of Representation” look like in the classroom?

This table provides some examples for implementing multiple means of representation in a postsecondary classroom. Categories are listed on the left, with ideas for implementation on the right.

Examples for implementing multiple means of representation in a postsecondary classroom
Multiple Means of Representation Putting it into Practice
Accessible course materials
  • Use common file formats such as .doc and .pdf so that documents are compatible with text-to-speech software
  • Put a copy of the course text on reserve in the library
  • Provide links to Creative Commons resources
  • Use Open Education Resources (OER)
  • Post slides, readings, and course materials online in advance if appropriate
  • Post electronic equivalents of paper handouts
  • Include captions for graphics
  • Enable closed captioning and provide transcripts for videos
Multimodal sources of information
  • Supplement lecture and reading assignments with visual aids (e.g., photographs, videos, diagrams, interactive simulations)
  • Augment required readings with alternative formats such as audio and video
  • Video recordings of lectures if allowed
  • Add an audio file explaining a major assignment
  • Provide models and graphics in addition to text
  • Use animations
  • Embed interactive questions/quizzes into videos
Pedagogical approaches
  • Use different pedagogical approaches to topics or concepts, such as logic, statistics, narrative, case study, multiple perspective, and testimonial
Student-created materials
  • Graphic organizer summary created by students
  • Concept maps, metaphors, illustrations, storyboards
  • Students post their class notes to the course site (perhaps in small groups)
  • Students create their own glossary of terms throughout the course
Comprehension and key concepts
  • Ensure your course syllabus clearly describes your outcomes, content, assessments and your expectations of the students.
  • Create an advance organizer or study guide to go over expectations for the following week (e.g., readings, focus questions, videos to watch, etc.)
  • Provide an agenda and key concepts overview at the beginning of each class
  • Practice exercises and solutions
  • Highlight patterns and themes between ideas
  • Post a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and responses online
Check for understanding
  • Summarize key points throughout the class, and tie these points to the larger course outcomes
  • Use active learning strategies such as a hinge questions or predictions to review the key points of your lesson
  • Online discussion forums
  • Q & A in class
  • Student response systems (e.g., Poll Everywhere) to check for comprehension and guide further discussion

 

Web Resources

For more resources on how to provide multiple means of representation, see the guidelines and checkpoints from CAST at: Principle: Provide multiple means of Representation

 

Reflection: One Small Step

What UDL strategies would you like to try when designing (or redesigning) your next course?

Use the following questions for considering this principle in more depth as it might apply to your course (and remember – start with just one small step!).

Questions for Considering Multiple Means of Representation:

  • How can you ensure your course materials are accessible to as many students as possible?
  • How might you present main course concepts in more than one format?
  • Does your course offer opportunities to encourage student agency?
  • What learning activities could emphasize comprehension of key concepts?
  • How might you informally gauge student understanding of course concepts?

 

License

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Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step 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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