Barriers to Learning

UDL is a way of thinking about curriculum and curriculum design so that we reduce the potential barriers to learning. We know that all students come to class with different strengths, challenges and interests but most curriculum is designed for the "typical" learner. Barriers to learning may result from the content, materials and methods, the learning environment, pace of instruction, or the inflexibility of the educational system. The UDL Framework exists to help teachers reduce barriers and also identify what barriers might exist. As you begin setting up a unit, consider developing a a Planning Pyramid.
  • What will Some students know?
  • What will most students know?
  • What will ALL students know?

Then you are ready to identify Barriers to learning.

For any lesson or unit, consider constructing a Barriers to learning and possible solutions chart.
Barriers to Learning
Programs example
Students cannot read the material
provide text to speech options
need simpler screens to view
Natural Readers
Students have problems with comprehension and vocabulary
provide online thesaurus
provide visual models
Students have difficulty writing
allow special spell checkers
Word prediction
Voice Recognition
Ghotit Context Spell Check
Ginger Software
Students have difficulty getting started in writing
Engage students with web activities
Allow students to have fun with words first
use voice instead for developing story
Make Beliefs
Students cannot calculate
allow online calculator
Use web tools that provide tutorials
Online calculator
Students cannot analyze their own writing
Provide tools that will summarize writing for them to review
Interactive tools to choose words
Text Compactor
Students have difficulty taking notes or following directions
Provide guides notes
Post note on a wiki or blog
Provide directions with podcasts
Livescribe Pen
Students cannot communicate
provide communication devices

Examples units with barriers to learning charts:
Universal Design for Learning Lesson Plans by Patins Project For example See American Literature: Women at the turn of the Century
Hogwarts School of Wizardy
Fair Fun
Fun at the Beach

SOURCE: Wissick, EDEX 750 Spring 2011
From the example unit: Roller Coaster Lessons