Your training probably isn’t working. 70% of employees say they don’t have the mastery needed to do their jobs1. What’s more, you probably know that your training isn’t working, because according to McKinsey only 25% managers think that training measurably improves performance2.
Are you CPR certified? If someone needed CPR right now, would you know what to do? If so, awesome! But if you’re like most of us who are CPR certified, it’s strange that despite being “certified”, we probably couldn’t do CPR correctly. That’s because we’ve equated competency with a checkbox. But competency is much more than that.
I remember a drawing class for my Interior Design program during my first year of college. I was not a good artist at all (which is why I chose Interior Design instead of fine arts). And although I tried my best and kept practicing and practicing, I struggled to draw human structures. Hands, eyes, noses; I couldn’t draw them well, But I did improve by the end of the semester. Unfortunately, the professor didn’t grade on improvement, he graded by comparison. Specifically, he the final drawings for the class and put them next to each other. The best ones got an A and the worst a D. I ended up with a D in that class. I was a 3.8 GPA student before that D. Needless to say, I was devastated and ended up leaving that college (fortunately I did find my calling!).
UDL checkpoint 3.4 stresses the importance of students being able to transfer their learning to new contexts. Every educators has had a student who is “book smart” - they do well on tests and seem to have a strong understanding of the material. That is, until they have to apply it to a real life situation. As we know, real-world scenarios can be full of ambiguity and uncertainty. We may be able to perform a task and have the same outcome 100 times, but all of a sudden, that next time, everything changes. Students need to be able to use critical thinking skills both in their academic programs and once they move into their career.
Whether you teach STEM, Health Science, or English Composition, it is important to create lessons where students see obvious benefit. Too often, students are given busy work. They know when this is happening, and it can cause them to grow suspicious toward the learning process. But when students are given ownership over their learning, they will not only be more motivated, they will retain the material better. According to the UDL guidelines Checkpoint 7.2, you can do this by determining ways to improve relevance, value, and authenticity.
The three main concepts behind UDL are 1) providing multiple means of engagement, 2) representation, and 3) action and expression. UDL encourages faculty to provide a variety of methods in which students can both learn the material and prove their learning. One area of UDL focuses on comprehension and how the instructor can guide information processing and visualization.