Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology (IQWST) UDL Edition

LeeAnn Sutherland

LeeAnn M. Sutherland

Assistant Research Scientist
University of Michigan

Using the Toolkit allowed me to provide previously marginalized students with access to science literacy.


Facing federal mandates to raise science achievement for all, educators face a daunting challenge. Active science learning requires a number of complex skills: reading, observing, collecting data, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and applying higher-order thinking skills to problem-solving activities. These tasks are challenging for all students (Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Kame’enui & Carnine, 1998; Keselman, 2003; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1994), but no commercially available science curriculum accommodates the diverse ways that students learn.

It was with this challenge in mind that CAST, the University of Michigan (UM) and the Education Development Center (EDC) created the innovative UDL Curriculum Toolkit, a web-based platform for the authoring of computer-based inquiry science curricula that instantiate the principals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the express purpose of leveraging the variability among learners to enhance experience and outcomes in inquiry science education. During this four-year project the team created the knowledge and the infrastructure necessary for cost-effective, efficient development and production of universally designed inquiry-oriented science curricula. Outcomes include the UDL Curriculum Toolkit, design guidelines, two exemplar units that instantiate the guidelines and demonstrate the power of the tool, as well as research and evaluation exploring the effectiveness of this approach.

IQWST is a 12-unit, full middle school science curriculum that focuses on big ideas, on scientific practices as integral to the scientific enterprise, and on integrating literacy practices and science content learning. Because of the importance of the topic as a foundation for future science study in chemistry, physics, biology, and Earth science, this project was based on the sixth grade chemistry unit, “How can I smell things from a distance?” which explores the particle nature of matter, states of matter, and phase change. The 6-8 week unit engages students with multiple phenomena, highlights their own original questions, and supports content learning with readings that connect new science with students’ prior knowledge and experience, connect (or contrast) everyday meanings of words with their meanings in science, and encourage active reading as students respond to sense-making questions embedded throughout the materials.

The web-based, UDL-based version developed for this project addresses numerous challenges inherent as diverse learners engage with inquiry science.



Shin, N., Sutherland, L., and McCall, K. (2011). Integrating science, literacy, technology, and universal design to enhance inquiry-based science learning in grades 6-8. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.


To access the IQWST exemplar, go to:

Nine student guest accounts and one teacher guest account have been created so that you can check out the features first-hand. The database behind these guest accounts is refreshed weekly, so you may encounter other users' work in the program. If this occurs, feel free to try a different username. For the purposes of the teacher side, one demo student account has been created with example work so that you can try out the teacher features even if no other guest student accounts have saved work.

Student Guest Accounts

  • usernames: student1, student2, student3, . . . student9
  • password: guest

Teacher Guest Account

  • username: teacher
  • password: guest


Dr. LeeAnn M. Sutherland, PI:

IQWST Publisher: