Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Universal Design for Instruction Module

 

Overview

Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) is an approach to teaching that consists of the proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with disabilities. The nine Principles of UDI© provide a framework for college faculty to use when designing or revising instruction to be responsive to diverse student learners and to minimize the need for "special" accommodations and retrofitted changes to the learning environment. UDI operates on the premise that the planning and delivery of instruction as well as the evaluation of learning can incorporate inclusive attributes that embrace diversity in learners without compromising academic standards.

This module is designed to provide you with a description of the process by which the UDI construct and the nine Principles of UDI© were developed and vetted. Additionally, examples of ways the construct can be applied to postsecondary courses and incorporated into instruction will be provided.

Learning Objectives


Learning Objectives

  • Provide historical background and details about the development of universal design
  • Define the construct of universal design.
  • Explain the rationale for the application of universal design to instruction
  • Name the nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction© and give examples of instructional strategies and methods at the postsecondary level that illustrate the Principles.
  • Differentiate among various approaches to applying the principles of universal design to instruction
  • Delineate areas for future research about Universal Design for Instruction and its application at the postsecondary level

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Universal Design for Instruction (UDI): A Quick Summary

The following links will take you to brief fact sheets about Universal Design for Instruction (UDI), its Nine Principles©, and examples of instructional strategies and methods that illustrate the application of UDI to college teaching.

 

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

 

History of Universal Design

"The universal design concept considers those changes that are experienced by everyone as they grow from infancy to old age. Problems related to temporary or permanent disabilities are incorporated into the concept as well. Because all groups are placed within the context of normal expectations of the human condition, trying to justify the importance of each vulnerable population group becomes unnecessary.”

Leon A. Pastalan, Ph.D.
Gerontologist and Urban Planner
(as cited in Mace, 1988)

Trends That Support Universal Access

The notion of creating products and environments that are responsive to diverse users had its genesis in several historical trends, most notably, legislation about civil rights, the disability rights movement, and changes in demographics of the population. Initial interest in the idea of barrier-free design to remove obstacles in the built environment for people with physical disabilities including veterans emerged in the 1950s in Europe and the U.S. As the federal building and program accessibility laws of the 1960s and 1970s expanded, civil rights statutes also were passed that extended the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for Minorities to individuals with disabilities. Advocacy efforts for equity and access for persons with disabilities escalated, culminating in passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Simultaneously, with the average life span extending 30 years beyond what it was 100 years ago (Institute for Human Centered Design, 2008), needs of an aging population, some of whom also have physical limitations, became more visible. These trends underscored the fact that there is a natural continuum of human performance including variance in sight, hearing, movement, and thought as well as specific needs germane to the aging process that bear consideration in the design process.


Timeline of Access and Universal Design movements.

Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University

Leadership in the efforts to promote universal design has emanated from the Center for Universal Design (CUD) at North Carolina State University (NCSU). According to Mace, Hardie, and Pace (1991), some of the movement’s staunch promoters, the concept of universal design “means simply designing all products, buildings and exterior spaces to be usable by all people to the greatest extent” (p. 2). The authors suggested that universal design represents a sensible and economical approach to synchronize artistic elements of design with human needs in the environment. When incorporated into the beginning stages of the design process, universal features are generally no more expensive than traditional features. Relating the concept of universal design to their work as architects, Mace, a polio survivor and wheel-chair user, and others noted that designers are faced with a choice: “reluctant compliance with minimal accessibility standards, or a positive, sensitive offering of universal design services” (p.2). Universal design is based on the premise that changes occur over the course of one’s lifespan and that it is possible to plan for aesthetically pleasing and usable environments that mitigate the need to retrofit clinical looking features to accommodate functional limitations. Extension of this concept to training future design professionals has been spearheaded by the Center for Universal Design (http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/) which offers courses, professional development, and technical assistance for builders, industrial designers, engineers, remodelers, interior designers, architects, planners, and agency staff. Additional efforts to showcase the concept include the work of the Institute for Human Centered Design, formerly called Adaptive Environments (http://www.adaptenv.org/index.php?option=Home).



Principles of Universal Design

To guide designers in their work to create environments and products that are inclusive, NCSU developed seven principles that provide a common frame of reference and language for explaining universal design. For an illustration of each of the following principles go to http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/pubs_p/docs/poster.pdf:

  1. Equitable Use: The design does not disadvantage or stigmatize any group of users.
  2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Simple, Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and Space for Approach & Use: Appropriate size and space


Universal Design: Examples from Practice

Picture of man coming out of store through automatic sliding doors. Picture of easy grip scissors. Picture of architectural design of chair. Picture of hand pushing down on door handle to open door. Picture of wider spaced subway ticket feeders.
Source: Center for Universal Design, North Carolina State University

Case studies that illustrate the application of each principle including efforts taken by the University of Virginia, Tupperware, and other agencies can be found on the website for the Center for Universal Design (http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/index.htm). Numerous examples of universal design from the fields of architecture and product design illustrate the notion that features which are essential for access for individuals with disabilities also help those without disabilities. Curb cuts, electronic door openers, entry ramps, and lever handles for doors benefit people pushing strollers, pulling suitcases, or carrying large packages in addition to people who use wheelchairs. In 1990, Oxo International Company introduced a product line of kitchen utensils called Good Grips for people with physical limitations caused by arthritis (Story, Mueller, & Mace, 1998). Today, these products can be found in retail venues that are visited by consumers with and without a physical disability because the usability of the product is appealing regardless of one’s physical status. There are thousands of applications of the concept of universal design extending to commercial and residential buildings, transportation, communication, technology, the hospitality industry, and businesses and industry, and numerous resources for assistance in implementing the concept. Efforts to promote an international network of designers, researchers, educators, and thinkers (Institute for Human Centered Design) underscore the power of this simple idea: the design process should be grounded in the fact that diversity is the norm, not the exception!


Picture of Boundless Playground. Picture of a glass measuring cup. Picture of a salad spinner.
Source: Boundless Playground, New London, CT http://www.boundlessplaygrounds.org
Source: http://www.oxo.com

References

Institute for Human Centered Design. (2008). Universal design. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from http://www.adaptenv.org/index.php?option=Content&Itemid=3

Mace, R.L. (1988). Universal Design: Housing for the lifespan of all people. Retrieved September 17, 2009, from http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/pubs_p/docs/housing%20for%20lifespan.pdf

Mace, R. L., Hardie, G.J., & Place, J.P. (1996). Accessible environments: Toward universal design. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/pubs_p/docs/ACC%20Environments.pdf

McGuire, J. M. (2007, June). Universal design: A primer on its what's, who's, where's, how's, and... so what's. Three day professional development workshop, 19th annual Postsecondary Disability Training Institute, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Story, M. F., Mueller, J.L., & Mace, R.L. (1998). The Universal Design file: Designing for people of all ages and abilities. Retrieved September 17, 2009, from http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/pubs_p/pudfiletoc.htm

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Universal Design Applied to Instruction

Picture of a professor talking in front of class with projected image of web site behind her.
Source: Professor in Classroom with Students by F. J. Gaylor
( http://mediashare.uconn.edu/res/sites/public/ )

Bearing in mind that the application of universal design to the built environment is relatively recent, the notion of extending the concept to teaching and learning, particularly in higher education, is even more novel. At the college level, qualified students with disabilities are assured protections and equal opportunity under antidiscrimination civil rights laws (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, 2008; Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 1992). Students’ rights include access and equity, that is, the opportunity to participate in education with reasonable accommodations and academic adjustments. Access must be provided, but because these laws are outcome neutral there are no requirements for individualized instruction or education plans or for modifying standards (see http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/legal-module). Early proponents of extending the universal design concept to higher education included Silver, Bourke, and Strehorn (1998) who suggested that universal design comprised a new paradigm for making instruction in postsecondary settings accessible and inclusive. The authors opined that the “traditional case-by-case instructional approach is quite conservative when compared to Universal Instructional Design (UID), which places accessibility issues as an integral component of all instructional planning” (p. 47). Silver et al.’s work included focus groups of faculty that verified the use of inclusive instructional strategies and approaches by some instructors. While they did not label their teaching as universally designed, these faculty clearly confirmed that they were proactively adapting their instruction to address student diversity. Several years later, a comprehensive approach to further examine the application of universal design to college instruction emanated from the work of Scott, McGuire, and Shaw (2001) and Scott, McGuire, and Foley (2003).


References

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Foley, T.E. (2003). Universal design for instruction: A framework for anticipating and responding to disability and other diverse learning needs in the college classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education, 36, 40-49.

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Shaw, S.F. (2001). Principles of Universal Design for Instruction. Storrs: University of Connecticut, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability.

Silver, P., Bourke, A., & Strehorn, K. (1998). Universal instructional design in higher education: An approach for inclusion. Equity and Excellence in Education, 31, 47-51.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Research and Development of Universal Design for Instruction

Grounding the Construct in the Literature

In 1999, the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability at the University of Connecticut was awarded one of 21 demonstration project grants by the U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education to implement universal design in the instructional environment ( http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/project-history ). A strong rationale for the proposal rested in the experiences of the authors as faculty members and college level disability services administrators bringing a perspective to the project of the demands of teaching and the importance of proactive instructional planning for students with learning problems. From an empirical perspective, universal design is a concept or construct, defined as an abstraction aimed at organizing and making sense of the environment (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991). The intuitive appeal of the concept of universal design is seductive: who would NOT want to design a product or environment to be usable by the widest range of people without the need to retrofit accommodations? By analogy, the following question guided the project’s initial work in reviewing the literature: Assuming diversity of students in the college classroom, are there approaches to learning and assessment that are more inclusive of a broader range of learning needs? The intent was “to examine college instruction in light of these design principles, and to take a more in-depth look at what might constitute UD in an instructional environment” (Scott et al., 2003, p. 42). The starting point was the framework of Universal Design and its seven principles developed by the NCSU Center for Universal Design. Other literature bases that were used focused on effective instructional methods in higher education as well as effective approaches to instruction for students with learning disabilities in both secondary and postsecondary settings. Specific references emerged as seminal resources for practice in the areas of postsecondary instruction, learning disabilities, and Universal Design including the Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). By extrapolating from the principles of UD and infusing elements from the work of other organizations that were examining inclusive instructional methodologies, the definition and principles of Universal Design for Instruction were articulated. The term Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) was intentionally used. This was a departure from other terminology in the literature to reflect the UD theoretical base (versus, for example, universal instructional design, a term implying a theoretical base in Instructional Design, a specific field of study in higher education that does not address accessibility issues).


References

Chickering, A.W., & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education.Washington: American Association for Higher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED2825491)

Pedhazur, E.J., & Schmelkin, L.P. (1991). Measurement, design, and analysis: An integrated approach. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Foley, T.E. (2003). Universal design for instruction: A framework for anticipating and responding to disability and other diverse learning needs in the college classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education, 36, 40-49.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Definition and Nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction©

Universal Design for Instruction is defined as “an approach to teaching that consists of the proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with learning disabilities” (Scott, McGuire, & Embry, 2002).


To guide the implementation of this construct, nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction© (Scott, McGuire, & Shaw, 2001) serve as a framework to inform faculty planning and practice. Examples of the following principles can be found at Examples of UDI.

Picture of a desktop computer. 1. Equitable Use: Instruction is designed to be useful to and accessible by people with diverse abilities.
Picture of a professor talking in front of class and pointing to a PowerPoint presentation. 2. Flexibility in Use: Instruction is designed accommodates a wide range of individual abilities.
Picture of a word diagram. 3. Simple and Intuitive: Instruction is designed in a straightforward and predictable manner, regardless of the student’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
Picture of a student taking notes. 4. Perceptible Information: Instruction is designed so that necessary information is communicated effectively to the student regardless of ambient conditions or the student's sensory abilities.
Picture of multiple drafts of a document listed in a MS Word folder. 5. Tolerance for Error: Instruction anticipates variation in individual students learning pace and prerequisite skills.
Picture of two students taking notes, one by hand, the second on a laptop. 6. Low Physical Effort: Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning (note that this principle does not apply when physical effort is integral to essential requirements of a course).
Picture of a science lab with space for a wheelchair. 7. Size and Space for Approach & Use: Instruction is designed with consideration for appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulations, and use regardless of a student’s body size, posture, mobility, and communication needs.
Picture of three people talking. 8. A Community of Learners: The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.
Picture of professor working one-on-one with a student. 9. Instructional Climate: Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive.

Note that two additional principles are included to reflect the unique social and community elements of learning reflected in the work of Chickering and Gamson, among others, that underscores the importance of valuing student diversity.


References

McGuire, J.M., Shaw, S.F., Scott, S.S., & Madaus, J.W. (2000, April). Assuring equal academic access for college students with learning disabilities by implementing universal design in the instructional environment: Year 1 performance report. Storrs: Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut.

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Shaw, S.F. (2001). Principles of Universal Design for Instruction. Storrs: University of Connecticut, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Vetting the Construct of UDI and Its Principles

Several steps were taken to address the process of construct validation, a critical element in the development of theory including the paradigm or framework of UDI. The initial draft of the definition of UDI and its principles was reviewed by experts that included faculty with acknowledged teaching excellence, professionals with expertise in the instruction of diverse learners including those with disabilities, and scholars in the area of instruction in higher education. Rating scales were developed to gather their feedback that then was used to revise the draft. The revised version including the principles was further reviewed by the Center for Universal Design (CUD) at North Carolina State University to determine the “goodness of fit” regarding how well the UDI principles maintain the integrity of the original seven Universal Design principles. The final version of the Nine Principles of UDI© reflect the valuable feedback and contributions of the director of CUD (Scott, McGuire, & Foley, 2003).


References

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Foley, T.E. (2003). Universal design for instruction: A framework for anticipating and responding to disability and other diverse learning needs in the college classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education, 36, 40-49.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Implementing Universal Design for Instruction in Postsecondary Courses

The Principles of Universal Design for Instruction© provide a framework for faculty to reflect on their teaching to monitor the use of inclusive instructional strategies with the intent of teaching in a manner that anticipates and responds to diverse learning styles. While the Nine Principles were not devised as a quick checklist, they can serve as tools for planning and delivering instruction and assessing learning outcomes with an expectation of varying backgrounds and skills that students bring to the learning environment. The chart that follows includes examples of strategies and techniques that illustrate a specific principle. These examples which may reflect more than one principle are illustrative of approaches to effective college teaching that are frequently cited in the literature (Davis, 2001; McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Meyers & Jones, 1993; Richlin, 2006). Other examples of UDI based techniques implemented by faculty can be found at:

http://www.facultyware.uconn.edu/freeware.cfm

What UDI brings to the topic of college teaching is a framework to guide reflection and action. As Ramsden astutely noted, “…simply thinking about teaching is not enough. Every teacher has thought about teaching: the challenging assignment is to merge thinking and doing” (p. 18).


Principle Definition Example(s)
Principle 1: Equitable use Instruction is designed to be useful to and accessible by people with diverse abilities. Provide the same means of use for all students; identical whenever possible, equivalent when not. Selecting a textbook that is available in print and digital formats, assuring that access to the content is responsive to diverse needs (e.g., vision, learning, attention, English as a Second Language); explaining that written text can be converted into audio files such as MP3.
Principle 2: Flexibility in use Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual abilities. Provide choice in methods of use. Providing students with the choice of assessment methods (e.g., taking an exam, writing a paper, conducting an online project); using varied instructional methods (lecture with a visual outline, group activities, use of stories, or web board based discussions) to present complex ideas.
Principle 3: Simple and intuitive Instruction is designed in a straightforward and predictable manner, regardless of the student's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Eliminate unnecessary complexity. Specifying the grading policy for the course including provisions for missed tests and late assignments; delineating the expectations for grading criteria (e.g., classroom participation; group activities); distributing an advance organizer (e.g., outline, graphic display, chart) for a class or a particular topic that provides a scaffold for students to use.
Principle 4: Perceptible information Instruction is designed so that necessary information is communicated effectively to the student, regardless of ambient conditions or the student's sensory abilities. Providing a list of key terms used in a lecture or Power Point before the presentation; organizing material covered in a presentation from simple to complex; using concrete examples to illustrate difficult concepts
Principle 5: Tolerance for error Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills. Providing multiple opportunities for students to show what they have learned rather than administering only a mid-term and final exam; including links on a syllabus for sites that students can access for review of prerequisite concepts (e.g., basic concepts of measure-ment); using technologies (e.g., simulations) as scaffolds for students to develop problem solving skills; structuring a long-term course project so that students have the option of turning in individual project components separately for constructive feedback and for integration into the final product.
Principle 6: Low physical effort Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning.


Note: This principle does not apply when physical effort is integral to essential requirements of a course.
Allowing students to use a word processor for writing and editing papers or essay exams, thereby facilitating editing of the document without the additional physical exertion of rewriting portions of text (helpful for students with fine motor or handwriting difficulties or extreme organization weaknesses while providing options for those who are more adept and comfortable composing on the computer).
Principle 7: Size and space for approach and use Instruction is designed with consideration for appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulations, and use regardless of a student's body size, posture, mobility, and communication needs. Using a circular seating arrangement in small classes to allow students to see and face speakers during discussion (important for students with attention deficit disorder or those who are deaf or hard of hearing); assigning students in a large survey course to a small work group with activities to complete outside the classroom including guidelines for interactions
Principle 8: A community of learners The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty. Purposefully structuring group membership for in-class activities to provide for multiple perspectives on a topic; specifying a grading rubric for group projects; offering group test taking which is carefully structured for either in-class or a take-home exam.
Principle 9: Instructional climate Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students. Conducting periodic structured “feedback” exercises throughout a semester for students to comment on elements of the class that are beneficial to their learning; giving students choices of time periods during a semester in which to complete course assignments; analyzing test grades using a frequency count and dropping questions missed by a large number of students.

Note: From Principles of Universal Design for Instruction by S. S. Scott, J.M.McGuire, and S.F. Shaw, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut. Copyright 2001. Adapted 2009 by J.M. McGuire and reprinted with permission.


References

Davis, B.G. (2001). Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKeachie, W.J., & Svinski, M. (2006). Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Meyers, C., & Jones, T.B. (1993). Promoting active learning: Strategies for the classroom. San Francisco:Jossey-Bass.

Richlin, L. (2006). Blueprint for learning: Constructing college courses to facilitate, assess, and document learning. Sterling VA: Stylus Publishing.

Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd ed.). New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., & Shaw, S.F. (2001). Principles of Universal Design for Instruction. Storrs: Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Summary

Other Applications of Universal Design

Interest in approaches to teaching that are inclusive of diverse learners extends across the continuum of educational settings. At the K-12 level students with disabilities are guaranteed and entitled to a “free and appropriate public education” under the original 1975 landmark legislation called the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), now renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-446). Since the 1980’s, the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), a not-for-profit organization, has engaged in efforts “to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through the research and development of innovative, technology-based educational resources and strategies” (Center for Applied Special Technology, n.d.). CAST’s approach is based upon Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with a particular focus on students in the K-12 system and the use of technology to support the goal of differentiated instruction. At the University of Guelph in Canada, a two year project was conducted to study universal instructional design (UID) by faculty who applied the seven principles from North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design (CUD). Although this study’s funding ended in 2003, preliminary results showed a significant relationship between the level of UID in a course and students’ sense of self-efficacy (Yuval, Procter, Korabik, & Palmer, 2004). Another approach is Universal Design of Instruction, the model proposed by the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center at the University of Washington. Checklists that are based on the seven principles of universal design (UD) are available to apply the concept not only to instruction but also to technology, student services, higher education facilities, and computing labs (Burgstahler & Cory, 2008). Universal Design in Education (UDE) is the phrase proposed by Bowe (2000) meaning “the preparation of curricula, materials, and environments so that they can be used, appropriately and with ease, by a wide variety of people” (p. 45). He suggested ways that UDE could be applied across the educational continuum including continuing and adult education. While each of these approaches is grounded in the work of CUD at North Carolina State University, implementation initiatives as well as guiding principles are not uniform. This is an important point when it comes to conducting research on the effectiveness of inclusive instructional strategies based on UD since the theory base and its component parts are critical in empirical efforts to examine a concept and validate its principles.


References

Bowe, F.G. (2000). Universal design in education: Teaching nontraditional students. Westport, CT:Bergin & Garvey.

Burgstahler, S.E., & Cory, R.C. (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Center for Applied Special Technology. (n.d.). About CAST. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://www.cast.org/about/index.html

Yuval, L., Proctor, E., Korabik, K., & Palmer, J. (2004). Evaluation report on the Universal Instructional Design project at the University of Guelph. Retrieved April, 2005, from http://www.tss.uoguelph.ca/uid/UIDsummaryfinalrep.pdf

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Areas for Future Research

According to Tinto (2004), “higher education faculties are the only faculty in education that, as a matter of practice, are not trained to teach their own students. Consequently, one of the key actions institutions can take to enhance retention and graduation is to invest in effective faculty and staff development and reward effective teaching” (p. 9). As implementation activities continue using UDI as the underlying construct, some of the key research questions include these:

  • What are the outcomes of instructional methods based on UDI for students with and without disabilities?
  • What are effective and efficient methods of preparing faculty to implement UDI in their instruction?
  • What do stakeholders (i.e., students) perceive to be the benefits of instruction based on UDI?
  • Are there specific technologies that students find effective in accessing instructional content?
  • Are there differential effects of UDI-based teaching methods according to variables such as learner and environmental attributes?

Statements about the merits of UD applied to instruction do raise concerns. Comments such as “UD will address the needs of all students” are extreme and not based on empirical evidence. Furthermore, although the implementation of UDI can reduce the need for accommodations, there will always be instances where a student’s disability requires an accommodation. In 1998 Ronald Mace noted that use of the term universal design is in some ways unfortunate since “nothing can be truly universal; there will always be people who cannot use an item no matter how thoughtfully it is designed” (p. 24). Several trends at the postsecondary level set the stage for innovative approaches to faculty development. The paradigm of college teaching is changing from providing instruction (the teaching paradigm) to producing learning (the learning paradigm) (Fink, 2003). Morrison (2003) stated that more than 20% of college and university faculty will retire within the next decade, ushering in a new cadre of instructors who will use more information technologies in their teaching. UDI has the potential to assist faculty as they move beyond reflection about their teaching to concrete actions to enhance the learning environment. By purposefully designing studies based on theory and principles, the field can avoid the pitfalls articulated by the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education, 2003): “Practitioners have seen interventions, introduced with great fanfare as being able to produce dramatic gains, come and go over the years, yielding little in the way of positive and lasting changes” (p. iii).


References

Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mace, R. (1998). Universal design in housing. Assistive Technology, 10, 21-28.

Tinto, V. (2004). Student retention and graduation: Facing the truth, living with the consequences. Washington: THE PELL INSTITUTE for the Study of Opportunities in Higher Education.

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. (2003, December). Identifying and implementing educational practices supported by rigorous evidence: A user friendly guide. Washington: Author.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Universal Design for Instruction Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/universal-design-instructio... .

Resources

Content for this module is taken from:

McGuire, J.M. (2009). Universal Design for Instruction: A Construct for Inclusive College Teaching. Unpublished manuscript, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

References

Bowe, F.G. (2000). Universal design in education: Teaching nontraditional students. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

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