When you think of the word expert you probably think of your college professor, a nationally renowned speaker, or an accomplished doctor. All of these are examples of people who have a high level of skill and significant content knowledge. In these examples expertise seems fixed and unchanging. In the book Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice, the authors say that “developing expertise in anything is always a process of continuous learning – practice, adjustment, and refinement.”
When considering expertise through the lens of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we understand that becoming an expert is about becoming great at the process of learning. Becoming an expert has ups and downs, which means that an expert learner will experience difficulty and even failure. Cultivating our students to become expert learners means helping them develop resilience so they can see difficulty and failure as a natural part of the learning process. The UDL Guidelines are a wonderful tool to help develop this resilience and to provide opportunities for students to connect at a deeper level with what they are learning.
Let’s start by examining how UDL helps foster a learning environment that cultivates expert learners.
Next, let’s examine the characteristics of expert learners and how understanding these characteristics can help create an environment that facilitates the growth of all students.
Finally, let’s examine how to foster expert learners in the classroom. How would you respond to these questions?