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.
Consider a student in an automotive program that is learning how to do an oil change. They can read the steps and have a strong understanding of how to perform an oil change. But what happens when they go to take the oil filter off and find it was put on with too much torque? What now?
We as educators need to provide students with less-than-perfect scenarios in which they have to utilize and apply knowledge previously learned. If a health science student is always given easy scenarios, they won’t have the chance to develop the critical thinking skills that are so imperative when an emergency happens.
We have the ability and opportunity to give our students various scenarios and situations to not only prepare them for their future career, but also assist them in being able to retrieve what they learned and apply it to any situation they may encounter. Provide challenging, hands-on learning opportunities in which students are not only assessed on how well they can memorize for a test, but how well they can put that knowledge into action when faced with unexpected situations. They will they develop their critical thinking skills and gain the confidence needed to excel in their field.