Universal Design for Learning (UDL) exemplifies a set of principles for developing accessible curricula and inclusive classroom environments that can be adapted to the individual needs and preferences of a diverse set of learners (CAST, 2012; Mannheimer & Hasselbring, 2014). This blog post describes how UDL would be implemented in a face-to-face music classroom consisting of students with a diverse set of needs. The lesson topic referred to in this discussion is music theory.
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In the UDL framework, learning objectives must be separated from the instructional techniques used to achieve them in order to avail a variety of pathways to the objectives at all levels (CAST, 2012). As an example, a lesson of music presented in a face-to-face teaching mode can be chosen. While dealing with the topic related to the voice leading, the main objective of the lesson plan is to ask music students to identify patterns that can help them internalize the syntax of common-practice harmony and voice leading. For many learners, the figured bass technique is a perfectly effective method for achieving this objective as it is typically assumed that an average learner is sighted and has an adequate visual ability to perform the exercise. However, some barriers prevent a part of the students from reaching the goal. Ones have vision and hearing difficulties while others are slow learners in music theory.
The three principles of UDL (representation, action and expression, and engagement) can be employed by the music teacher to develop a methodology that could be used to improve students’ learning outcomes irrespective of need (CAST, 2012; Mannheimer & Hasselbring, 2014). The teacher may adopt methods that leverage aural and kinesthetic modalities of learning (e.g., strategic categorization, active memorization, improvisation, error-detection exercises, engagement) to cater for the needs of such students. Additionally, scaffolding can be used to assist slow learners in music theory as it entails the initial employment of systematic and customized supports intended to help novice learners in developing a passion for and understanding of new ideas and skills. This way, all learners of music theory get equal opportunities to learn due to the flexible learning approaches made possible through UDL.
CAST. (2012). Universal Design for Learning guideline version 2.0. Web.
Mannheimer, J., & Hasselbring, T.S. (2014). Mini anchors: A universal design for learning approach. Tech Trends, 58(6), 21-28.