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Implementation of Universal Design for Learning Principles for Development of Spatial Visualization Skills of Students

mg.paed. dipl.arch.Inguna Karlsone



Mastering the basic professional skills for interior design students require development of visual spatial perception.
“Spatial abilities” refer to, in general, a collection of cognitive, perceptual, and visualization skills. While lists may differ, substantial agreement exists that spatial abilities involve (Sutton and Williams, 2008; pp. 115):
  • the ability to visualize mental rotation of objects
  • the ability to understand how objects appear in different positions
  • the skill to conceptualize how objects relate to each other in space
  • three-dimensional (3D) understanding.
Based of the concept and principles of universal design for learning (UDL), providing availability of environment, objects and information and the opportunity of their application for everyone, educational researchers of USA have developed several methodologies on adaptation of UDL principles in education.
UDL principles offering the most comprehensive and developed theoretical formulations and practical recommendations were applied in the current study.
The framework for UDL is based on findings from cognitive neuroscience providing understanding on the needs of individual learners. It embeds accessible pedagogy into three specific and central considerations in teaching: the means of representing information, the means for students’ expression of knowledge, and the means of engagement in learning (Rose and Meyer, 2002, and Rose, Meyer, and Hitchcock, 2005).
Universal design for learning is a part of the overall movement toward universal design. UDL requires design not only of accessible information, but also of accessible pedagogy. The distinction between UDL and other domains of universal design is its focus on learning.
UDL means multiform and incorporating educational environment that would be available and accessible as much as possible to everybody, without special adaptation. UDL provide every student with an opportunity to develop his/her skills of learning, as well as to find out motivation and set up goals for development of personality by formulation of the following three principles:
Principle No1: Multiple Means of Representation. 
There is more than one way of presenting information or transferring knowledge optimal for all students.
Principle No2: Multiple Means of Expression 
Students differ in the way they can navigate a learning environment and express their knowledge. There is not only one way of expression that will be optimal for all students, nor one kind of scaffolding or support that will help them as they learn to express themselves. Multiple means are essential.
Principle No3: Multiple Means of Engagement
Students also differ markedly in the ways in which they are engaged or motivated to
learn. Students must develop the internal standarts and motivation that will prepare
them for successful work and future learning.
Objective of this study:
improvement of interior design students visual special perception skills through application principles of UDL in study course. Standardized programs do not contain methodology for evaluation and improvement of this skill.
Method of obtaining data:
Data processing and analyses carried out by dispersion analyses. Study performed in the period from January 2010 till November 2011 within the scope of basic curriculum of architecture.
In order to perfect visual perception skills of students, the following issues were incorporated in the curriculum:
  • Teaching methods corresponding to variety of learning styles;
  • Different teaching styles in order to promote students having dominant learning style to build up also other, less developed learning styles;
  • Various expressions, types of activity (free hand sketching, layout design of objects into material, virtual modelling tasks provided via software, designing of orthogonal and isometric projective).


Visual spatial perception skills of students at the beginning and in the final stage of this study were evaluated by application of standardised ARCH PROFILE, Visual-Spatial Intelligence Test spatial perception test consisting of three components:
  1. set of „mental rotation” tasks;
  2. set of two „mental transformation” tasks;
  3. 2D-3D relational tasks and „paper folding” tasks.
Results obtained:
level of students spatial visualization skills indicated in the beginning of the study was different i.e. the average data for index of visual special perception was of 0.45. In the end of this study - after principles of universal design for learning have been incorporated in the curriculum students demonstrated considerable increase of their spatialn visualization skills i.e. the index of visual special perception reached 0.79.
Implementation of universal design for learning principles in learning process of interior design students stimulate development of their spatial visualization skills.
To promote spatial visualization skills of interior students, the basic curriculum of architecture should be implemented based on UDL principles.
Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD). (Also available in digital format at http://www.cast.org).
Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., & Hitchcock, C. (2005). The universally designed classroom: Accessible curriculum and digital technologies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Sutton,K & Williams,A. (2008). “Developing a Discipline-Based Measure of Visualization.” In the UniServe Science Proceedings, pp. 115 – 120.


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