In a time when cultural diversity and the recognition of systemic inequity is in our shared consciousness, how does UDL support cultural diversity?
Joni Degner cites a range of measures in her article, How Universal Design for Learning Creates Culturally Accessible Classrooms, including:
- co-designing learning and seeking student input and feedback,
- seeking out students’ lived experiences and personal stories,
- recognising students as cultural resources in developing culturally responsive learning,
- developing a culture of connection, and
- considering the language and discourse in which our students are immersed
Drawing on the UDL framework, embracing diversity in content and practice is the recommendation in the article, Diversity and Equity in Learning. Key suggestions include:
- Assume students are diverse in ways that you cannot see. This may be related to race, national origin or socioeconomic status. Or it may relate to ethnicity, physical and neuro-disabilities, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs. There are many other possibilities, too.
- Design group assignments and intentionally mix groups. At times, require students to work purposely with others they may not know. Ensure students in the minority are not isolated. Encourage or help set up diverse study groups.
- Examine and consider revising texts, resources, guest speakers, examples, and authors. Include contributions from diverse scholars.
Against these suggestions, how do your teaching and learning experiences shape up?
To further your practice or understanding, read the article Culturally Responsive Teaching and UDL. It explains key terms and theories and links to the research. The article supports the understanding of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) in addition to UDL. Loui Lord Nelson and Patti Kelly Ralabate also focus on CRT and UDL in their book, Culturally Responsive Design for English Learners.