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UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0: Research Evidence

Checkpoint 5.3: Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance

II. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Expression and Communication


To develop competence and fluency in expression or problem solving requires a long and guided apprenticeship for any learner, and a much longer or more supported apprenticeship for some. The experimental studies listed below examine the advantages of providing various scaffolds and supports during that apprenticeship. 

They include features in two main categories:

  1. models and demonstrations that guide successful practice (including exemplars, worked examples, animated agents or human mentors, direct instruction)
  2. scaffolds that support the novice but that can be gradually released as individuals are ready for independence (e.g. checklists, templates, mnemonic aids, etc.).

The scholarly reviews and opinion pieces highlight the historical and pedagogical role of apprenticeships and their associated supports in developing independence.

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Experimental and Quantitative Evidence:

Atkinson, R. K., Renkl, A., & Merrill, M. M. (2003). Transitioning from studying examples to solving problems: Effects of self-explanation prompts and fading worked-out steps. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 774-783.

Atkinson, R. K. (2002). Optimizing learning from examples using animated pedagogical agents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 416-427.

Atkinson, R. K., Derry, S. J., Renkl, A., & Wortham, D. (2000). Learning from examples: Instructional principles from the worked examples research. Review of Educational Research, 70(2), 181-214.

Atkinson, R. K., Mayer, R. E., & Merrill, M. M. (2005). Fostering social agency in multimedia learning: Examining the impact of an animated agent’s voice. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30(1), 117-139.

Atkinson, R. K., & Renkl, A. (2007). Interactive example-based learning environments: Using interactive elements to encourage effective processing of worked examples. Educational Psychology Review, 19(3), 375-386.

Bui, Y. N., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (2006). The effects of a strategic writing program for students with and without learning disabilities in inclusive fifth-grade classes. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 21(4), 244-260.

Chi, M. T. H., & Bassok, M. (1989). Learning from examples via self-explanation. In L. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser, (pp. 251-282). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Craig, S. D., Gholson, B., & Driscoll, D. M. (2002). Animated pedagogical agents in multimedia educational environments: Effects of agent properties, picture features, and redundancy. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 428-434.

Craig, S. D., Graesser, A. C., Sullins, J., & Gholson, B. (2004). Affect and learning: An exploratory look into the role of affect in learning with AutoTutor. Journal of Educational Media, 29(3), 241-250.

Dalton, B., & Strangman, N. (2006). Improving struggling readers’ comprehension through scaffolded hypertexts and other computer-based literacy programs. In M. C. McKenna, L.D. Labbo, R.D. Kieffer & D. Reinking (Ed.), International handbook of literacy and technology volume II (pp. 75-92). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Dalton, B., Pisha, B., Eagleton, M., Coyne, P., & Deysher, S. (2002). Engaging the text: Final report to the U.S. department of education. Peabody: CAST.

Dalton, B. D., Herbert, M., & Deysher, S. (2003, December). Scaffolding students’ response to digital literature with embedded strategy supports: The role of audio-recording vs. writing student response options. Presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference, Scottsdale, AZ.

Danoff, B. (1993). Incorporating strategy instruction within the writing process in the regular classroom: Effects on the writing of students with and without learning disabilities. Journal of Reading Behavior, 25(3), 295-322.

Doering, A., & Veletsianos, G. (2007). Multi-scaffolding environment: An analysis of scaffolding and its impact on cognitive load and problem-solving ability. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(2), 107-129.

Dole, J. A., Brown, K. J., & Trathen, W. (1996). The effects of strategy instruction on the comprehension performance of at-risk students. Reading Research Quarterly, 31(1), 62-77.

Dunsworth, Q., & Atkinson, R. K. (2007). Fostering multimedia learning of science: Exploring the role of an animated agent’s image. Computers & Education, 49(3), 677-690.

Dyck, N., & Sunbye, N. (1988). The effects of text explicitness on story understanding and recall by learning disabled children. LD Research, 3(2), 68-77.

Easterbrooks, S. R., & Stoner, M. (2006). Using a visual tool to increase adjectives in the written language of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 27(2), 95-109.

Ellis, E. S., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1989). Teaching adolescents with learning disabilities to generate and use task-specific strategies. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22(2), 108-119.

Englert, C. S., Yong, Z., Dunsmore, K., Collings, N. Y., & Wolbers, K. (2007). Scaffolding the writing of students with disabilities through procedural facilitation: Using an internet-based technology to improve performance. Learning Disability Quarterly, 30(1), 9-29.

Etheris, A. I. (2004). Computer-supported collaborative problem solving and anchored instruction in a mathematics classroom: An exploratory study. International Journal of Learning Technology, 1(1), 16-39.

Fisher, J. B., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1995). Searching for validated inclusive practices: A review of the literature. Focus on Exceptional Children, 28(4), 1-20.

Gambrell, L. B., & Bales, R. (1986). Mental imagery and the comprehension-monitoring performance of fourth and fifth grade poor readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 21(4), 454-464.

Gaytan, J. (2006). Type II applications: Using on-demand help features effectively in interactive learning environments: A literature review. Computers in the Schools, 23(1), 163-172.

Gersten, R. (1998). Recent advances in instructional research for students with learning disabilities: An overview. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 13(3), 162-170.

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal Educational Psychology, 99(3), 445-476.

Higgins, K., Boone, R., & Lovitt, T. (1996). Hypertext support for remedial students and students with disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(4), 402-412.

Horton, S., Lovitt, T., & Christensen, S. (1991). Notetaking from textbooks: Effects of a columnar format on three categories of secondary students. Exceptionality: A Research Journal, 2(1), 18-40.

Idol-Maestas, L. (1985). Getting ready to read: Guided probing for poor comprehenders. Learning Disability Quarterly, 8, 243-254.

Jacobson, M. J. (2008). A design framework for educational hypermedia systems: Theory, research, and learning emerging scientific perspectives. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56(1), 5-28.

Lenz, B. K., Ehren, B. J., & Deshler, D. D. (2005). The content literacy continuum: A school reform framework for improving adolescent literacy for all students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 37(6), 60-63.

Liu, M., & Bera, S. (2005). An analysis of cognitive tool use patterns in a hypermedia learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(1), 5-21.

Lusk, M. M., & Atkinson, R. K. (2007). Animated pedagogical agents: Does their degree of embodiment impact learning from static or animated worked examples? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(6), 747-764.

MacArthur, C. A., & Haynes, J. B. (1995). Student assistant for learning from text(SALT): A hypermedia reading aid. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28(3), 150-159.

McNamara, D. S., Levinstein, I. B., & Boonthum, C. (2004). iSTART: Interactive strategy training for active reading and thinking. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36(2), 222-233.

McNamara, D. S., O'Reilly, T. P., Best, R. M., & Ozuru, Y. (2006). Improving adolescent students' reading comprehension with iSTART. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 34(2), 147-171.

McNeill, K. L., Lizotte, D. J., Krajcik, J., & Marx, R. W. (2006). Supporting students’ construction of scientific explanations by fading scaffolds in instructional materials. Journal of the Sciences, 15(2), 153-181.

Mechling, L. (2005). The effect of instructor-created video programs to teach students with disabilities: A literature review. TAM Board Members, 20(2), 25-36.

Moran, J., Ferdig, R. E., Pearson, P. D., Wardrop, J., & Blomeyer Jr, R. L. (2008). Technology and reading performance in the middle-school grades: A meta-analysis with recommendations for policy and practice. Journal of Literacy Research, 40(1), 6-58.

Moreno, R., Mayer, R. E., Spires, H. A., & Lester, J. C. (2001). The case for social agency in computer-based teaching: Do students learn more deeply when they interact with animated pedagogical agents? Cognition and Instruction, 19(2), 177-213.

Moreno, R., & Flowerday, T. (2006). Students’ choice of animated pedagogical agents in science learning: A test of the similarity-attraction hypothesis on gender and ethnicity. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(2), 186-207.

Moreno, R., Mayer, R. E., Spires, H. A., & Lester, J. C. (2001). The case for social agency in computer-based teaching: Do students learn more deeply when they interact with animated pedagogical agents? Cognition & Instruction, 19(2), 177-213.

Orsmond, P., Merry, S., & Reiling, K. (2002). The use of exemplars and formative feedback when using student derived marking criteria in peer and self-assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(4), 309-323.

Palincsar, A. S., & Brown, A. L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition & Instruction, 1(1), 117-175.

Paris, S. G., Wasik, B. A., & Turner, J. C. (1999). The development of strategic readers. In R. Barr, M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 609-640). White Plains, NY: Longman.

Pol, H. J., Harskamp, E. G., & Suhre, C. J. M. (2008). The effect of the timing of instructional support in a computer-supported problem-solving program for students in secondary physics education. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(3), 1156-1178.

Prendinger, H., Ma, C., & Ishizuka, M. (2007). Eye movements as indices for the utility of life-like interface agents: A pilot study. Interacting with Computers, 19(2), 281-292.

Reinking, D., & Schreiner, R. (1985). The effects of computer mediated text on measures of reading comprehension and reading behavior. Reading Research Quarterly, 20(5), 536-552.

Renkl, A., & Atkinson, R. K. (2003). Structuring the transition from example study to problem solving in cognitive skill acquisition: A cognitive load perspective. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 153-22.

Rosenshine, B. (1997). Advances in research on instruction. In J. W. Lloyd, E. J. Kameenui & D. Chard (Eds.), Issues in educating students with disabilities (pp. 197-221). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Rosenshine, B., & & Meister, C. (1994). Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 64(4), 479-530.

Ryokai, K., Vaucelle, C., & Cassell, J. (2003). Virtual peers as partners in storytelling and literacy learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19(2), 195-208.

Scanlon, D., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1996). Can a strategy be taught and learned in secondary inclusive classrooms? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 11(1), 41-57.

Van Eck, R. (2006). The effect of contextual pedagogical advisement and competition on middle-school students' attitude toward mathematics and mathematics instruction using a computer-based simulation game. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 25(2), 165-195.

Van Merrienboer, J. J. G., Kirschner, P. A., & Kester, L. (2003). Taking the load off a learner's mind: Instructional design for complex learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 5-13.

Wilson, R. (1996). The effects of computer-assisted versus teacher-directed instruction on the multiplication performance of elementary students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(4), 382-390.

Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17(2), 89-100.

Zydney, J. M. (2008). Cognitive tools for scaffolding students defining an ill-structured problem. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 38(4), 353-385.

Scholarly reviews and expert opinions:

Burke, M. D., Hagan, S. L., & Grossen, B. (1998). What curricular designs and strategies accommodate diverse learners? Teaching Exceptional Children, 31(2), 34-38.

Chen, D., & Hung, D. (2004). Augmentation in learning: Supports which do not fade away. Education Technology, 44(4), 60-63.

Clark, F. L., Deshler, D. D., Schumaker, J. B., Alley, G. R., & Warner, M. M. (1984). Visual imagery and self-questioning: Strategies to improve comprehension of written material. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 17(3), 145-149.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2004). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Corey, R. (1995). Words from music: How Mozart and Mangione inspire writers. Quarterly of the National Writing Project and the Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, 17(3), 26-29.

Dalton, B., & Proctor, C. P. (2007). Reading as thinking: Integrating strategy instruction in a universally designed digital literacy environment. In D.S. McNamara (Ed.), Reading Comprehension Strategies: Theories, Interventions, and Technologies, (pp. 421-439). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc..

Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1989). An instructional model for teaching students how to learn. In J. L. Graden, J. E. Zins & M. J. Curtis (Eds.), Alternative educational delivery systems: Enhancing instructional outcomes for all students (pp. 391-411). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Duffy, G. G. (2002). The case for direct explanation of strategies. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction (pp. 28–41). New York: Guilford.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007). Scaffolded writing: A gradual release approach to writing instruction. New York: Scholastic.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2003). Writing instruction for struggling adolescent readers: A gradual release model. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 46(5), 396-407.

Gallego, M. A., Duran, G. Z., & Scanlon, D. J. (1989). Interactive teaching and learning: Facilitating learning disabled students' transition from novice to expert. Literacy Theory and Research, 311-319.

Gillette, Y. (2001). Pictures to print: A software scaffold to written literacy. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 16(5), 484-497.

Graesser, A. C., McNamara, D. S., & VanLehn, K. (2005). Scaffolding deep comprehension strategies through Point&Query, AutoTutor, and iSTART. Educational Psychologist, 40(4), 225-234.

Hudson, P., Lignugaris-Kraft, B., & Miller, T. (1993). Using content enhancements to improve the performance of adolescents with learning disabilities in content classes. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 8(2), 106-126.

Isaacson, S., & Gleason, M. M. (1997). Mechanical obstacles to writing: What can teachers do to help students with learning problems? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 12(3), 188-194.

Jones, B. F. (1986). Quality and equality through cognitive instruction. Educational Leadership, 43(7), 4-11.

Kameenui, E. J., & Carnine, D. W. (1998). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate diverse learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Kameenui, E. J., & Simmons, D. C. (1990). Designing instructional strategies: The prevention of academic learning problems. Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Co.

Kim, Y., & Baylor, A. L. (2006). A social-cognitive framework for pedagogical agents as learning companions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 54(6), 569-596.

Koedinger, K. R., & Aleven, V. (2007). Exploring the assistance dilemma in experiments with cognitive tutors. Educational Psychology Review, 19(3), 239-264.

McTighe, J., & O’Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 10-17.

Nolet, V., & McLaughlin, M. J. (2005). Accessing the general curriculum: Including students with disabilities in standards-based reform. Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.

Paris, S. G. (1986). Teaching children to guide their reading and learning. In T. E. Raphael (Ed.), The contexts of school-based literacy (pp. 115-130). New York, NY: Random House.

Quintana, C., Reiser, B. J., Davis, E. A., Krajcik, J., Fretz, E., Duncan, R. G., et al. (2004). A scaffolding design framework for software to support science inquiry. Scaffolding: A Special Issue of the Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(3), 337-386.

Reiser, B. J. (2004). Scaffolding complex learning: The mechanisms of structuring and problematizing student work. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(3), 273-304.

Roehler, L. R., Duffy, G. G., & Meloth, M. S. (1984). What to be direct about in direct instruction in reading: Content-only versus process-into-content. In T. E. Raphael (Ed.), The contexts of school-based literacy (pp. 79-95). New York, NY: Random House.

Rose, D. H. (1995). Apprenticeship and exploration: A new approach to literacy instruction. Scholastic literacy research paper, 6, 1-8.

Schumaker, J. B., Denton, P. H., & Deshler, D. D. (1984). The paraphrasing strategy. Lawrence, KS: The University of Kansas.

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Sitko, M. C., Laine, C. J., & Sitko, C. (2005). Writing tools: Technology and strategies for struggling writers. In D. Edyburn, K. Higgins & R. Boone (Eds.), Handbook of special education technology research and practice (pp. 571-598). Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin: Knowledge by Design.

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Last Updated: 02/01/2011

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