Universal Design for Learning: meeting the challenge of individual learning differences through a neurocognitive perspective
The traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach to curriculum denies the vast individual differences in learning strengths, challenges, and interests. The focus of this article is a novel approach, called Universal Design for Learning, to addressing the challenge of individual learner differences. Cognitive science research suggests the joint action of three broad sets of neural networks in cognition and learning: one that recognizes patterns, one that plans and generates patterns, and one that determines which patterns are important. These networks, referred to in this paper as recognition, strategic, and affective networks, are subject to individual differences that impact how individual students learn. This paper describes these networks and how the Universal Design for Learning framework makes use of this networks-based perspective to structure the consideration of individual learner differences and guide the design of a flexible, technology-rich curriculum that provides rich options for meeting diverse student needs.