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Multiple Means of Action or Expression

Multiple means of action or expression is one of the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Teachers and other educators can use multiple means of action or expression to make their lessons accessible to a wide variety of learners.

Multiple Means of Action or Expression

Multiple means of action or expression refers to offering students diverse ways of expressing what they have learned. Teachers use this principle when they find more than one way to assess the knowledge students have gained.

For example, teachers at all levels, from elementary school to higher education, often grade student participation in class. Teachers may assign these grades based on how often or how well students contribute to class discussions. However, basing part of a grade only on oral discussion could put some students at a disadvantage. For instance, verbal discussion may not be accessible for students:

  • With communication disabilities
  • Who need more time to think about the discussion in progress before responding

Alternatively, teachers can grade participation based on two elements: the comments students make orally in class, and written responses. In early grades, students could post these responses in their classroom, on a bulletin board. Later in their education, students could post on a course’s online discussion forum. These options could help teachers grade students based on their strengths, rather than in ways that put them at a disadvantage.

If teachers can offer both options for class participation, all their students have the chance to practise both forms of communication. Likewise, students can develop their written communication skills in a context less formal than an essay or report.

More Ways to Encourage Student Expression

Some other ways educators can create more opportunities for students to express what they know are:

  • Tests with different question formats, such as:
    • Multiple choice
    • Fill-in-the-blanks
    • Short answer
    • Analysis questions
    • Essay questions
  • oral presentations, in person or through audio or video recording
  • Written essays
  • Projects that involve physically constructing something
  • Creative assignments
  • Assignments requiring fact recollection or application

Educators can offer students some choice in the ways they show their teachers and peers what they have learned. For instance, students could choose between an oral presentation and a written essay. Some of the choices teachers offer may be more accessible for some students than for others. However, each student should be able to display their growing knowledge in a way that is accessible for them.

Multiple means of action or expression help teachers assess their students in diverse and creative ways.