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For example, is there a bias toward a particular theory of learning such as social constructivism, and if so is this helpful or not helpful? What are the roles of the teachers and learners? What impact might it have on the identity of a learner? The asking of these and similar questions with respect to inclusive pedagogy, even in a fairly rudimentary way, can assist educators to evaluate the merits and suitability of an approach with respect to their context and personal views.

This can be especially effective if done in collaboration with teaching colleagues so that the various issues can be explored from a range of viewpoints through dialogue. The reader is encouraged to apply a critical lens to a reading of the various inclusive pedagogical approaches described below. The Centre for Applied Special Technology CAST model of UDL espoused by Rose, Gravel, and Gordon is based on three principles that include a multiple means of engagement, b multiple means of representation, and c multiple means of action and expression.

Because UDL is principle based it is inherently flexible and adaptable to local classroom contexts and circumstances. The first principle, multiple means of engagement , advocates the presentation of a variety of ways for students to become involved in the learning. The facilitation of multiple means of engagement involves discerning student traits and catering instruction to suit the wide variety of interests, abilities, learning styles, etc. This is all done in order to produce purposeful, motivated learners.

This principle, therefore, falls very much in the affective and motivational realm of pedagogy, dealing with student motivations, beliefs, self-efficacy, self-expectations, and individual autonomy. Under this banner, Meyer, Rose, and Gordon highlight the need to provide students with options for self-regulation, including the promotion of expectations and beliefs that optimize student motivation. Second, they stress the need for the provision of options that encourage students to sustain effort and persistence.

This involves providing very clear goals and objectives, challenging students through increasing demands as their capacities and resources increase, fostering collaboration through group projects, and increasing feedback when mastery-oriented objectives have been met. Students must be given choices with respect to the learning they are to engage in. This should then make the learning more relevant and, therefore, enhance motivation.

The work of a teacher, then, is to ensure that the student does not become distracted from the task and that she is always set up for success. This principle revolves around communication and the need for both teachers and learners to consider how to best communicate to groups with a variety of different communicative styles and receptive capacities. Meyer and colleagues note that teachers should provide a variety of options for comprehension. This might mean supplying further background knowledge to students, or helping them to recall prior learning.

It involves assisting learners to understand the main ideas through highlighting salient aspects of a communication, and guiding the processing of communication to ensure that what is intended is being properly understood. Second, they advocate for providing options for language and mathematical expressions and symbols.

Pedagogy for Inclusive Education

In large part this amounts to clarifying vocabulary, expressions, and symbols to ensure that they are well understood by the learner. It involves the decoding of information that is presented. Third, the provision of options for perception is important.

This involves a customized presentation of information as required, and a reliance not only on verbal-auditory forms of communication, but also visual, tactile, etc. Each of the five senses may be employed here in an effort to produce a holistic style of communication. The third principle of UDL relates to the provision of multiple means of action and expression Rose et al. This is about fostering goal-directed learning that employs strategies best suited to the individual learner. Under this principle Meyer et al.

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A teacher should also help students to develop capacities and strategies for monitoring their progress. Second, they suggest the provision of a variety of options for expression and communication. This involves the use of multiple modes of communication including but not limited to visual, written, and verbal communication. This is built on the notion that different people optimally receive and transmit information in different ways.

Fluencies in terms of various communicative modalities can be built: for example, enhancing listening and verbal skills, or improving comprehension and construction of written work. Third, options for physical action, or perhaps more accurately reaction, are recommended. This involves the provision of a variety of methods of response to communication, including a variety of tools such as assistive devices for those with disabilities.

While there is some support for it at the K—12 level, a significantly higher amount of supporting research for the use of UDL in postsecondary education is apparent. This will need to change if the version of UDL recommended by Rose and colleagues is to have longevity in the K—12 education system.


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The UDL model proposed by Rose and colleagues provides a process under which the needs of a wide variety of learners may be met in a single classroom or learning situation. It is not only for students with disabilities, but rather is applicable to all students, providing for those who are gifted in particular areas equally as well as for those who may still be developing in those areas. At the heart of this model is a process involving promoting personal learning traits, communicating effectively, and providing a variety of options for the completion of goal-directed tasks.

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This is presented as first in the sequence because of its fundamental importance in supporting blocks 2 and 3. It involves helping students to build a strong and positive self-concept, educating all students and staff to value diversity, and engaging in classroom management techniques that are democratic and respectful, such as collective problem solving and increasing student ownership and engagement.

Block 2, Inclusive pedagogy , draws heavily on the CAST model and advocates for the use of multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. This block recognizes the importance of examining and changing school and school systems structures and policies that might lead to exclusion of some children. The effectiveness of this model is currently the subject of ongoing research in Canada by Katz and colleagues.


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An earlier study by Katz involving Canadian students yielded similar results with respect to student engagement, with the additional finding of improvements in both student autonomy and inclusivity in classrooms that adopted the Three-Block Model of UDL as compared with those that did not. From the perspective of teachers, Katz found that a group of 58 Canadian teachers who had adopted the Three-Block Model of UDL felt that this model had improved their practice and self-efficacy perceptions related to inclusive education, as well as reducing their workload and increasing their job satisfaction.

They also identified some barriers to the implementation of the approach, which they believed could be overcome with time for collaborative planning, resources, professional learning communities, and education regarding the approach for the school and wider community. Techniques involved in DI are seen by some as being a subset of the UDL approach, and indeed the two approaches are perhaps closely connected in some respects. However, there is some difference.

While UDL aims to provide all students with support and access to learning through the same or similar strategies, and to some degree operates more at the design phase of instruction, DI involves providing different levels or instructional techniques for different individual students. The adoption of differentiated instructional strategies came about as a response to some of the disadvantages inherent in the traditional approach to teaching in classrooms.

The type of uniform delivery typically associated with traditional models was often ill-suited to students with a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities. It was not responsive to individual needs and preferences, with instruction typically focusing on rote memorization with little emphasis on critical and higher-level thinking skills De Jesus, Sousa and Tomlinson , p.

These include the following:.


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The learning environment must invite learning. That is, it must be safe, challenging, and supportive for each student. A teacher should be able to clearly delineate what constitutes essential knowledge, understanding, and skills in a content area, unit, and lesson. The teacher should persistently assess student proximity to the essential knowledge, understanding, and skills throughout a segment of study. When ongoing assessment data indicate that a student is confused about, has learning gaps in, or has mastered essential knowledge, understanding, or skills, the teacher should use that information to plan upcoming instruction.

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The idea is to address those needs—whether for remediation or acceleration—that, if unattended to, will most likely impede student growth. Although DI presents in many varied forms in classrooms throughout the world it has been found to be an effective instructional approach. However, due to the sometimes individualized nature of the approach, large-scale studies are in the minority, with many focusing on single cases or a small number of cases.

There are, however, some noteworthy larger-scale studies that speak to the efficacy of DI. Goddard, Goddard, and Minjung examined grade 5 mathematics and reading achievement in Michigan schools, with a particular emphasis on norms for practice consistent with DI. Compared to schools that did not engage in DI practices they found that those schools that did were positively and significantly associated with differences in student achievement in both mathematics and reading. A study in Cyprus by Valiandes involving a sample of 24 teachers and grade 4 students yielded similar conclusions, with the use of DI in mixed-ability classrooms producing positive effects on student achievement.

The DI approach, however, is not without critics. Pappano argues that there is a gap between theory and practice, with some students expressing discontent when they noticed that their assignment was different to that of other children even as the approach was implemented by an experienced teacher in the area.