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Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation


Tracey Hall, Ge Vue, Nicole Strangman, and Anne Meyer


National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)

Please note: This article was updated on 10/6/2014.


Information on the theory and research behind differentiated instruction and its intersection with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is examined. The article begins with an introduction to differentiated instruction by defining the construct as the ability to recognize students’ varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. Next, components and features of differentiated instruction are identified, by providing a sampling of considerations and curriculum applications, and research evidence for effectiveness. UDL is introduced as a theoretical framework to guide the design and development of learning environments that represent materials in flexible ways and offers a variety of options for learners to comprehend information, demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and be motivated to learn. Connections are made between differentiated instruction and UDL both in theory and through specific lesson examples. Lastly, general guidelines for implementation of UDL and a list of web resources further provide information about differentiated instruction.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Framework of learning and teaching, resisting one-size-fits-all approach. Encourages offering multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.

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Hall, T., Vue, G., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2003). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. (Links updated 2014). Retrieved [insert date] from