Date
21 April 2019

Learner variability matters

An introduction to UDL and its value in an Aotearoa New Zealand context.

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What is learner variability?

What is learner variability?

Learner variability is a fundamental premise of UDL.

Findings from neuroscience indicate that each human brain learns using three primary networks in the brain.

  • Our affective networks influence our emotions and motivations.
  • Our recognition networks influence what we perceive and understand through our senses and
  • Our strategic networks influence how we organise and communicate our thinking.

These networks make unique interconnections influenced by:

  • the context in which learning happens
  • our emotional state
  • our experiences, background knowledge, interests and abilities.

This combination makes learning highly variable.

 

Why learner variability matters

Why learner variability matters

Dr Todd Rose, Harvard University talks about why planning for variability is critical.

Reflection questions

Reflection questions

  • Discuss how you plan for variability in other contexts. Think about planning a meal for a group of people you don't know. What variability would you expect and how would you plan for it? Could this approach translate to teaching and learning?
  • Reflect on Todd Rose’s story about the implications of giving everyone the same sized shoes? In what ways might this relate to teaching and learning?

Source: Adapted from Universal design for learning: Theory and practice (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources

File

UDL and the learning brain

Read time: 5 min

Publisher: CAST

Download PDF

Website

Level up your inclusive practice

Read time: 5 min

Publisher: CORE Education

Visit website

Website

Research@Work: Embracing Learner Variability in Schools

Read time: 2 min

Publisher: Digital Promise

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Find out about UDL”:

Return to the guide “Universal Design for Learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Universal Design for Learning

Strategies for action:

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