Exploring and reflecting on meaningful pathways to inclusive and personalized learning and living for students with complex developmental needs because education should prepare all students for a lifetime of inclusion, connection, growth and learning.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Universal Design for Learning Principle III (Multiple Means of Engagement) Overview

About this UDL Series of Posts: I am looking to explore, connect to potential universal practice and individualized assistive technology practice (for the population of students that I work with) each of the guidelines as a summer blogging project.  This is my personal exploration of the "big picture" of how assistive technology for students with complex needs connects to a universally designed inclusive classroom.

Links to posts in this series follow:

Universal Design for Learning Principle I (Multiple Means of Representation) Overview
  • Universal Design for Learning Principle I (Multiple Means of Representation) Guideline 1 (Perception)
  • Universal Design for Learning Principal I (Multiple Means of Representation) Guideline 2 (Language, Expression and Symbols)
  • Universal Design for Learning Principle I (Multiple Means of Representation) Guideline 3 (Comprehension)
Universal Design for Learning Principle II (Multiple Means of Action and Expression) Overview
  • Universal Design for Learning Principle II (Multiple Means of Action and Expression) Guideline 4 (Physical Action)
  • Universal Design for Learning Principle II (Multiple Means of Action and Expression) Guideline 5 (Expression and Communication)
  • Universal Design for Learning Principle III (Multiple Means of Action and Expression) Guideline 6 (Executive Function)
Universal Design for Learning Principle III (Multiple Means of Engagement) Overview
Below is the first of a 12 post series.  As I finish each post, links will be added to the outline above.
Universal Design for Learning Principle III
Multiple Means of Engagement

In the book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Scott Barry Kaufman proposes that "rather than focus on how to make people more motivated for the possibility of external rewards (such as money or grades), we should focus, instead, on creating the learning conditions, experiences and positive expectations that will make it more likely that students will both want and like to engage in school and in the world."  The section of the book dedicated to engagement is split in to three chapters: passion, mind-set and self-regulation. 

Interestingly, these three chapters tie fairly closely to the CAST UDL Guidelines for Principle III (providing multiple means of engagement). These three guidelines are related to (7) recruiting interest, (8) sustaining effort and persistence and (9) self-regulation.  Note the numbering system ties to the actual guidelines.  I'm starting with the third principle because it seems to me that motivation, engagement and participation is where we should be starting when we are talking about reducing barriers to learning for students.

One of the first books that I read when I first started exploring approaches to support inclusive education of students with complex needs is The Beyond Access Model: Promoting Membership, Participation, and Learning for Students with Disabilities in the General Education Classroom by Cheryl M. Jorgensen, Michael McSheehan and Rae M. Sonnenmeier.  The book outlines a model is a collaborative teaming model to designing and continually evaluating and refining inclusive programs for students with disabilities.  The model is based on three foundations: (1) the presumption of competence - this include presuming competence of the student but also presuming competence of all team members involved in supporting the student's participation and learning, (2) membership, participation and learning (this is what I'm going to expand on below), (3) collaborative teaming (because after all... it takes a village). 
The statement that first jumped out at me as I began to read this book was...
Many educators begin their planning for instruction by asking questions about how to modify the curriculum content and materials based on unwarranted lack of confidence in student ability.  These perceptions of students abilities are inaccurate, in part, because of insufficient AAC supports.  In doing so, there is a risk of the trap presented in Jay's story in Chapter 1.  'How do I modify a lesson on computing additions problems for a student functioning at the 2-year-old level' or 'How do I modify a fourth-grade novel to make sense for a student with low-functioning autism?'  These questions lead a teacher to create a version of the curriculum that is different from the one taught to students without disabilities and then to design ways to teach it that also may be different from the instructional plan for students without disabilities. 
Up to that point, as I tried to piece together the "how" of including students with significant disabilities, particularly those with complex communication needs, in general education classrooms, I had been asking the exact questions that I was reading in that moment.  As educators, we want to put our focus on student learning and this seems the right place to start. 

This book presented an alternative... prioritize context and learning processes before the content to be learned.  This means that the focus of the collaborative team in supporting a student is on ensuring membership (being part of the larger learning community) and participation (in academic, social and functional routines and processes).  By focusing here, the team is able to establish the conditions for learning that allow long-term focus on what we want to start with from the beginning. 

Learning becomes a result of membership and participation and from what I've seen with this approach to this point as we implement the philosophy behind this approach, it also shifts the motivation for learning from extrinsic to intrinsic. 

It was eye-opening to read the UDL guidelines meant for ALL students a few months after finishing this book as it was just one more indication that the theories and strategies related to learning for students with significant disabilities are just not different from the theories and strategies related to students without disabilities. 

And a post on motivation would seem incomplete if it didn't include Daniel Pink...



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