Reaching All Students: How to design learning for variety of needs and abilities in classroom

Community of Scholarly Teaching Practice (CoSTP): Session 2 (Fall, 2013)

Toward the end of October, the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL) convened for the second time VIU’s Community of Scholarly Teaching Practice (CoSTP).  After an invigorating first session on High Impact Practices, participants came together this time to discuss the theme Reaching All Students: How to design learning for variety of needs and abilities in classroom.  For this session, we decided to contextualize our discussion in Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  One of the guidelines of incorporating UDL into instruction is to provide multiple means of representation.  In keeping with this guideline, we provided our participants with four varying resources to help them engage with the concepts and theory behind UDL in order to springboard into our discussions.  These resources are listed here:

1. Academic Article:  An Approach for Inclusive College Teaching: Universal Design for Instruction 

McGuire, J.M., & Scott, S.S. (2006). An approach for inclusive college teaching: Universal Design for Instruction. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 14(1), 21-31.

2. Condensed Scholarly Summary:   Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction 

Burgstahler, S. (2011). Universal design of instruction (UDI): Definition, principles, guidelines, and examples. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from

3. Chart: Universal Design for Learning Guidelines

CAST (2011). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.0. Wake­eld, MA

4. Video:  Universal Design for Learning—and Beyond:


During both days (we facilitate two different time slots for this initiative in order to maximize accessibility for all those who are interested—see how UDL we are), participants discussed both their strategies and challenges in making teaching inclusive and accessible to meet the needs of all students, not just the average student.  Participants took up the readings intimately, and at times, critically, all the while acknowledging the ways in which they can, do or struggle to make expectations clear, craft meaningful assessment and evaluation opportunities, motivate learners,  provide frequent and varied formative assessment, and connect with learners.  We walked away with some new insights and strategies, but also with some new questions to continue to ponder as we continue to move forward as scholarly teachers.