The Office of Faculty Development

Multiple Representations

A principle of the Universal Design for Learning framework, providing students with opportunities to engage with multiple representations, will provide more equitable access to learning opportunities.  The three guidelines for multiple representations call for educators to provide multiple representations for learners to perceive, communicate about, and comprehend content and ideas. 

When considering representations for learners to perceive information, learners will benefit from multiple forms of representation (e.g. visual and auditory) as well as multiple options of customizable choice related to a form of representation.  For example, videos can be created that offer various options related to playback speed or subtitles/captions.

Working with multiple means of representation will not just provide students with multiple access points to understand content, but it will also provide students with opportunities to make connections and develop deeper understanding.  This will improve students’ abilities to apply ideas to other classes and settings.  It will also improve long term retention of information.

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    Examine selected research on multiple representations.

    Roberts, K. D., Park, H., Brown, S., Cook, B.  (2021).  Universal design for instruction in postsecondary education: A systematic review of empirically based articlesJournal of postsecondary education and disability.  24(1), 5-15.

    Schelly, C. L.,Davies, P. L., Spooner, C. L.  (2011).  Student perceptions of faculty implementation of universal design for learningJournal of postsecondary education and disability.  24(1), 17-30. 

    Rau, M. A., Matthews, P. G.  (2017).  How to make ‘more’ better? Principles for effective use of multiple representations to enhance students’ learning about fractionsZDM - Mathematics education.  49 531-544. 

    Wu., S. P. W., Corr, J., Rau, M. A. (2019).  How instructors frame student’ interactions with educational technologies can enhance or reduce learning with multiple representationsComputers & education.  128, 199-213.

    Chang, J., Cheng, M., Lin, S., Lin, J.  (2021).  Exploring students’ translation performance and use of intermediary representations among multiple representations: Example from torque and rotation.  Teaching and teacher education.  97.


    Ready to apply multiple representations to your teaching? Here are some ideas and strategies to get you started:

    List ideas or strategies for application and outline of implementation steps.

    1. Find a lecture or activity that you have already planned then develop and include just one new representation of the information that you plan to present.
      1. Add a diagram or
      2. Record or find an audio version or
      3. Include a simulation (digital or practical) or
      4. Have students develop additional representations as part of their learning activity
    2. If you have students reading a passage that is available as an audio recording, provide access to the audio recording as well.
    3. Develop an activity that directs students to create multiple representations.  (e.g. A mathematics activity where students model a situation algebraically and graphically or a social sciences activity where students present historical data as a concept map with a written summary)

    Invest some time to create advance organizers for some of your class activities, lectures, or independent reading.






Multiple Means of Representation (College STAR)

UDL GuIdelines (CAST)
Multiple Means of Representation (Jennifer Cronk)UDL Principle One: Multiple Means of Representation (Texas Education Agency)

Universal Design for Learning: Representation and Science Content (Finnegan & Dieker)