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Universal Design for Learning
The Action & Expression Principle

Introduction to Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Cartoon featuring a snake, a turtle, a stork, and an elephant outside a storefront window. The window has the name of the store on it: One Size Fits All Store. A sale sign is on display behind the window.

Think of all the different ways in which learners express their understanding and skills in the online learning environment. Think beyond just assessments.

The Action and Expression principle examines ways to support the variability Opens in a new windowwith which learners navigate a learning environment and express what they have learned. Just as we discovered with the other two UDL principles, learners differ in the ways that they can express what they value, know, and can do. Learners communicate optimally in certain modalities depending on the context and learning materials. There is no singular means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts. As such, providing various options for action and expression is essential for responding to the needs and talents of the widest range of learners possible.

Action and expression also require strategy, practice, and organization, which are other areas in which learners can differ. The Multiple Means of Action and Expression principle (the “how” of learning) helps us provide options and supports so everyone can learn, create, and share in ways that work for them. The essential goal of this principle is to facilitate the growth of strategic, goal-directed, lifelong learning skills. This video reviews the part of the UDL framework that considers the Action and Expression principle.

Introduction to Multiple Means of Action and Expression 3:43 min
A circle diagram split into three parts. Each part contains a label corresponding to one of the guidelines of the Multiple Means of Action and Expression principle. These are: “Options for physical action,” “Options for expression and communication,” and “Options for executive function.” The outside of the diagram has three curved arrows that all point clockwise. Each arrow covers the perimeter that corresponds to each guideline. The diagram, arrows, and text are blue to match the colour-coding of the principle in the UDL framework.

The Multiple Means of Action and Expression principleOpens in a new window consists of three main guidelines:

  • options for physical action,
  • options for expression and communication, and
  • options for executive function.
Next sectionOptions for Physical Action