Skip to main content

Graphic Organizers and Implications for Universal Design for Learning


Nicole Strangman, Ge Vue, Tracey Hall, and Anne Meyer


National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)




Graphic organizers are introduced and defined as graphic or visual displays that depict the relationships between facts, terms, and/or ideas within a learning task. Various examples of graphic organizers are covered, including applications across curriculum areas. Evidence for effectiveness as a learning enhancement is reviewed, addressing important questions about graphic organizers that are relevant to classroom practice, including whether graphic organizers are beneficial to students with disabilities and what instructional context makes them most effective. Next, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is discussed as a theoretical framework to guide the design and development of learning environments that represent materials in flexible ways and offers a variety of options for learners to comprehend information, demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and be motivated to learn. The foundational principles of UDL (engagement, action and expression, and representation) are covered to address how the needs of learners vary across the three UDL principles, and the ways in which graphic organizers can support diverse learners to complete different learning tasks. The paper concludes with general guidelines for UDL implementation and a list of web resources that provide further information.

Download the Article

Cite As

Strangman, N., Vue, G., Hall, T., & Meyer, A. (2003). Graphic organizers and implications for universal design for learning. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. (Links updated 2014). Retrieved [insert date] from

Top of Page