Congratulations, you’ve just completed Module 3!
Have a look at Giulia Forsythe’s doodle summary of the Representation principle and the importance of an equity perspective in teaching and learning approaches.
In this module, we focused on creating an inclusive learning environment using the Universal Design for Learning principle of Multiple Means of Representation. This examined the “what” of learning, looking at how content can be delivered and navigated by learners. We examined the impact of barriers to inclusion, and considered how diverse learners acquire, perceive, and process information. We evaluated the impacts of language, symbols, content, and display using the UDL, antiracism, and anti-oppressive practice frameworks. We explored strategies for scaffolding and providing formative feedback that reflect and build upon experience, knowledge and skills.
Multiple means of representation means course content should be just as diverse as our learners. This is because Learners differ in the ways that they perceive, organize, and comprehend information that is presented to them. Learning is enhanced when learners receive information that is connected to their lives and authentic lived experiences.
Providing options for perception empowers students to make choices for themselves to best meet their needs. These can be alternatives such as articles, podcasts, and videos that convey the same content. When it comes to text, providing choice can include controlling text size and colour contrast, and speech-to-text for concurrent read-along.
Providing options that help students decode and clarify language and symbols is a way to reduce barriers in our learning environments. These might include glossaries, links to reference sheets, clues, diagrams, and links to formulas. Academic terms are a common barrier to learning in higher education. However, often these terms are linked to concepts and outcomes integral to courses. In this case, providing resources to help students understand specialized language could be critical to making content accessible.1:45In addition to glossaries and decreasing jargon.
The third guideline for the principle of Representation is focused on educators providing strategies for students to identify the most important features of information, to activate prior knowledge and prerequisite knowledge, and to choose material that will help them construct and comprehend meaning. Brainstorming is an example of a collaborative activity to activate prior knowledge.
By chunking content and creating opportunities for learners to self-assess and reflect upon their learning, we can help students learn how to identify, revise, and review any gaps in their learning. When educators establish clear expectations about what objectives need to be met, students can create their own goals. Comprehension also includes the important skillset of finding, organizing, and managing information and resources. This is fundamental to recognizing patterns and big ideas, understanding content, and reflecting on selection of choices. These guide the ways that we comprehend and construct meaning from what is perceived through sound, image, language, symbols, touch, taste, and kinesthetic stimuli including vibrations and balance.
Our brain’s recognition networks include more processes than we usually think about. As educators, we can influence OR interfere with learning capacity. For example, we can send messages during lessons that some learners have trouble perceiving and decoding, or we can deliver content that is not portioned or chunked. However, thoughtful presentation of material can positively impact understanding as well as meet the perceptual needs of a variety of learners. As stated by Verscheldon, "designing low- and no-stakes learning activities where learners can reflect on mistakes and correct them helps learners mitigate identity threat and focus on reaching learning goals. Educators can build flexibility in marking schemes so that students are assessed on their best performance as it relates to the course outcomes, and not penalized for previous failures."
From an equity perspective, ensuring learners feel represented in their content and awareness of their backgrounds, reduces the idea of a hierarchy in teaching and learning approaches. For example, content and materials that reinforce the hierarchy of text over oral and image-based traditions may dismiss a learner’s lived experience and cultural ways of information sharing. Decolonizing curriculum is an ongoing, intentional process of dismantling the structural, attitudinal, and academic legacy of colonialism within learning environments.
Critical pedagogy is transformative in the Representation Principle as it aims to expose and disrupt the notions of oppressive schooling. As Gerstandt (2011) stated, “If you do not intentionally, deliberately, and proactively include, you will unintentionally exclude.” In conclusion, if you design your course to include multiple means of representation you provide opportunities for more learners to acquire, perceive and process essential course materials.
Summary of Module 3: Representation - Runtime 4:52 min
As you are posting your Representation Draft Plan and checking responses, you may also want to have another look for new responses to posts in the first four Collaborative Activities.
- Did you jot down notes on your reflection on your intersecting identities?
- Consider the Plus-One idea in Module 1. What decolonizing curriculum next step do you have planned?
- Consider your own experience of comprehension when doing the Mastery Multiple Choice Activity!
- You can download a pdf of this module by returning to the main page.
You are in the home stretch!
Now it’s time to put together what you’ve learned in the previous modules about activating the principles of Engagement and Representation through a decolonizing curriculum lens, to explore the expanded horizons of Action and Expression!
See you in Module 4!
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