UDL for inclusive higher education—what makes group work effective for diverse international students in UK?

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International students face many challenges transitioning to post-graduate study in UK institutions. Students often need to adapt to a range of cultural practices and curricular norms, often without the differences between UK and their home countries being made explicit. Building on Vygotskian concepts of scaffolded learning and the importance that group interaction plays within learning, this research reports on an initiative to embed Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles through group work to develop research skills within a research methods module on an international Masters in Education programme. This small-scale case study across two campuses, with 11 survey respondents and nine focus group participants, analyses questionnaires and focus group interviews and yields important theoretical insights into the interaction of UDL components. The three UDL principles of multiple choices of learning materials, learning activities, and expression of learning outcomes each impacted on the other. The study also provides significant findings about hybrid learning at a crucial point in its development post COVID-19. Technology played an enabling role as students used a range of modalities to negotiate social and cultural diversity. However, the study indicates that on campus learning time is indispensable for students to fully access the power of digital technology. This paper contributes to advancing the understandings of international education and its interactional challenges and opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102277
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
Early online date19 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Nov 2023


  • universal design for learning (UDL)
  • collaborative learning
  • postgraduate studies
  • international student experience


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