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STEM and Universal Design

One of the most powerful Universal Design principles is that students with disabilities, like those without, benefit from having material presented to them in a variety of ways: aurally, visually, and kinesthetically. Similarly, students do best when given a variety of ways to engage the material, when they have a choice between giving a presentation, building a model, or writing a paper. The principle recognizes that not all students learn in the same way, and not all have the same skills and interests. I might be a visual thinker, you not. If the material is presented to both of us in a variety of ways, each of us is likely to best understand and be best able to respond in the way which most resonates with how we learn. Such principles are especially important in effectively teaching STEM subjects to students on the spectrum. In math, they can engage the material on a Smart Board, access assignments online, have notes printed from an overhead presentation, and engage with their peers in a collaborative project that applies the concepts they’re learning. Similarly in science and technology: students may discuss a contemporary problem, collaborate on solutions, and present the results. As part of the process, they are engaged in online research, in collaborative interaction, and multiple means of presentation: oral, electronic, and via physical models and prototypes. This is the face of 21st Century learning at Village Glen!

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