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Identifying Barriers in Methods

woman pointing to words on a chalkboard

Models of UDL

Like materials, the methods we choose to use in our classrooms can actually pose barriers to learning for some students. Now think about typical methods that are often used to teach. Think about the learning context (location, grouping), the presentation format (oral, written) and the instructional format (lecture, reading); what skills and abilities do these require. What might the barriers in these typical methods be?

Below you will find a list of typical methods commonly used in classrooms. Think about how each of the methods listed in the table below might actually be a barrier to learning for students. Type your ideas in the column on the right. When you are ready, click on the sample answers button to check your work.

Typical Classroom Methods Your Ideas Sample Answers
Learning contexts:
Locations present barriers because they require the ability to focus despite the level of ambient sensory stimuli that (sounds, odors, light or movement) exists. These stimuli distract students differently. For example, some locations will lack enough sensory stimulation to keep some students focused, whereas other locations will be too distracting for some. In order to meet the needs of all learners, it is important to vary the locations and the ambient stimuli to help all students learn.
Groupings present different barriers because each type of grouping requires different skill sets of students. For example, individual work requires students to be able to think and work independently. Group work requires students to have appropriate social skills and knowledge of the dominant culture to work with others.
Presentation formats:
Oral presentations presents barriers because it requires that students be able to speak, to communicate in the language of the audience, to prepare and organize material and the willingness to speak in front of a group in order to express understanding of the material.
Written presentations presents barriers because it requires fine-motor skills, the ability to organize ideas and background knowledge of the conventions of writing and the writing process in order to express understanding of the material.
Instructional formats:
Lecture presents barriers because it requires the ability to hear, understand the language being spoken, to process language effectively and to actively listen in order to make meaning from the material.
Reading presents barriers because it requires sight, the ability to decode text, the ability to understand the language, background knowledge of the topic and comprehension skills in order to make meaning from the content.
Group work presents barriers because it requires social skills and knowledge of dominant culture in order to work effectively and learn from group work.
Seat work presents barriers because it requires the ability to stay seated, to focus, to organize behavior, to stay on task through completion as well as the fine-motor skills to write or draw.
Examples