UDL Implementation in Teacher Preparation Programs

Author: Ashley Grays;

CIDDL invited Dr. Stephanie Craig, and Ann Kaufman to discuss using UDL in Teacher Preparation Programs. Facilitated by Dr. Tara Courchaine, Chief Research & Development Officer at CAST, these two innovators from Marietta College share how they prepare teachers to implement Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and weave UDL into their curriculum and design their program to reflect the principles of UDL.

Dual Programs

Dr. Stephanie Craig, and Ann Kaufman shared how Ohio is beginning to implement dual programs that offer certification in both subject areas/general education and special education. Having dual programs creates inclusive educators who understand that neurodiversity is the norm and incorporate practices into the classroom that reflect the principles of Universal Design for Learning. To further reflect the practices of UDL, Marietta College is working towards having integrated classes where all educators learn how to make their classes accessible to the various needs of a diverse group of learners. “Practicing what they preach”, this philosophy has led to designing higher education classes to mimic what teachers are being taught about inclusive education.

Incorporating Universal Design for Learning

In their program, education students start in the Education Seminar as freshmen and are exposed to UDL in this first class. This is also when they begin field hours as opposed to at the end of their coursework. Their coursework continues with UDL principles weaved throughout their learnings. As Ann Kaufman said in the webinar, “UDL and special education are not married in that only [with] students with special needs, a teacher would use the UDL framework. It’s good for everybody”. However, it is important to address the obligations of the law in terms of children with special needs as opposed to a typically developing child. The course work allows for experiences and conversations that demonstrate how accommodations that are required for children with special needs can be used to support any learner who may benefit from the modification.

Benefits of UDL in Teacher Preparation

Some of the benefits of the program include that students who have these experiences and understanding of UDL can examine current classroom practices with a discerning eye and combat some of the myths about education. The panel shared how students have come back and asked questions about practices that they saw in the classroom that were not in alignment with UDL. Additionally, teachers report being better prepared for the realities of the classroom because of their earlier and prolonged experience in the classroom setting during their teacher prep coursework.

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Join us in the CIDDL community where the conversation continues! We’d love to hear how your programs prepare teachers to implement Universal Design for Learning.

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