Kristin Robinson
Elementary Education, Special Education
Material Type:
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Upper Primary, Graduate / Professional
  • Cast
  • Coaching
  • Inquiry Science
  • Oasis
  • Udl
  • inquiry-science
    Creative Commons Attribution

    Best Practices: UDL

    Best Practices: UDL


    Universal Design for Learning, or UDL is an educational framework to make learning success possible for all students. UDL calls for creating learning environments that provide multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement. How does this apply in inquiry science? Explore here!

    The UDL in SNUDLE

    SNUDLE stands for Science Notebook Universal Design for Learning Environment. Universal Design for Learning, or UDL is an educational framework to make learning success possible for all students. UDL calls for creating learning environments that provide:

    • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
    • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
    • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.

    By addressing these three principles, UDL environments reduce physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to learning, and ensure that learning environments provide all students with a pathway to reach educational goals, regardless of learner strengths, challenges, needs, or preferences.

    To learn more about UDL, check out CAST’s website .

    Why is UDL important?

    The Challenge:
    • Many students struggle in science. STEM and science jobs are the jobs of the future, but not all students are able to take advantage of these opportunities. Many students struggle to achieve in science: the 2009 Nation's Report Card reported 34% of fourth-graders scored at the proficient or above level in science, with 72% at the basic or above level (NAEP, 2009).
    • Students with disabilities are especially disadvantaged in science. For students with disabilities, those numbers were more dramatic, with 82% performing at or below the basic level, and 49% performing below basic (NAEP, 2009).

    What does the research say?

    • Traditional science notebooks can be a barrier. Active science learning helps improve outcomes for science learning, and science notebooks help support scientific thinking but paper and pencil notebooks can be a barrier for some students, especially those who struggle with reading and writing, memory, executive function, or learning strategies (Hargrove & Nesbit, 2003; Klentschy, 2005; Baxter, Bass, & Glaser, 2001).

    Best Practices: reduce barriers for all learners

    How to use SNUDLE UDL features to support all learners

    SNUDLE is a science notebook designed to support the opportunity for success for the wide variability we can expect in our classrooms. Use SNUDLE's design and features to reduce barriers and motivate students to learn science.

    • Build learner growth in each step of inquiry science. The open-ended nature of the inquiry science process can be daunting for many; so daunting, in fact, that it can produce anxiety and prevent many from being successful. Support learner growth in each inquiry area by doing focused mini-lessons around Collect, Analyze, and Explain..
    • Model use of just-in-time supports. Each inquiry science step in SNUDLE supports learners where and when they need it. Model how you would use sentence starters, clip art, checklists, and “use these words!” in each step of the inquiry process. Remind students to use these supports to check work.
    • Model and mentor use of multi-modal learning options. SNUDLE is designed to be a flexible environment for learners to engage, interact with, and express content knowledge. Model for your class how you would access information using text-to-speech, then have your students try it out. Follow up later by modeling other features and having students then practice themselves. Have them reflect on each experience, and what worked for them.

    Learn the research base

    • Explore the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress results for science achievement.
    • Read the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress report for science achievement.
    • Alston, R.J., Bell, T.J. & Hampton, J.L. (2002). Learning Disability and Career Entry into the Sciences: A Critical Analysis of Attitudinal Factors. Journal of Career Development 28: 263.
    • Nesbit, C.R., Hargrove, T. & Fox, K. (2003). Science notebooks: a tool for promoting inquiry learning? Paper presented at the annual international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Vancouver, British Columbia.
    • Klentschy, M. (2008). Using science notebooks in elementary classrooms. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
    • Baxter, G. P., Bass, K. M., & Glasser, R. (2001). Notebook writing in three fifth-grade science classrooms. The Elementary Science Journal, 102(2), 123-140