To nominate a faculty member for a future UDL Spotlight, please email cte@providence.edu.

Dr. Heather Allcock

Assistant Professor of Elementary/Special Education

In one of my upper-level discussion-based courses, where all students are concurrently student teaching, I offer multiple options for how students are asked to complete assignments. By embedding choice, students have the agency to meet the institutional standards (Rhode Island Beginning Teaching Standards) and understand the course’s learning objectives while also leveraging their strengths and interests. For example, students are asked to observe an Individual Education Program meeting and reflect on the proceedings. Family members work with school officials during the meeting to develop learning goals, accommodations, and specialized instruction needed to ensure the student with a disability is successful. My students are to reflect on the meeting, the interactions, and some of the power dynamics that can impact how the meetings are conducted. Students can write a 2–3-page reflection, record a video reflection, create an infographic, develop a presentation, or draw a sketch note of the proceedings. As part of the initiative to implement Universal Design for Learning, this demonstrates the strategy of Multiple Means of Action and Expression. Students are still learning the same content while having different ways to express what they learned and meeting the same standards. I have multiple assignments where students are given a choice on how to respond to the assignment while meeting the standards.

Dr. Jennifer Illuzzi

Associate Professor of History
Director, DWC program

We and our students have more demands on our time than ever before. Thinking through my classes with an eye to UDL, I’ve realized that I can make writing assignments easier on me and students by writing a single, detailed, writing assignment that a student can hand in multiple times spaced across the semester. A flexible, repeating assignment allows them to schedule their own work around other major deadlines, greatly reduces requests for extensions, and gives students practice writing the same kinds of assignments more than once—the repetition helps them to improve with each instance. Within the assignment, I can allow students to do the assignment at least once with an alternate output format, if they so choose (for instance, they can hand in a written assignment twice, but may hand in a podcast that conforms to the same requirements). Additionally, the “choose your own deadline” model reduces office hour rush at midterms and final exam periods. Combining this with a synthetic midterm and final keeps students responsible for all the course material but allows me to pinpoint different skill sets with different assignments.

Dr. Brett Pellock

Associate Professor of Biology

In the past four years I’ve been implementing and improving multiple design strategies to increase accessibility and inclusivity of my BIO 103 General Biology I course. These approaches center on providing students multiple ways to interact with the course material. I record lectures in my office and post them to YouTube the day before the in-class lecture. Lecture slides are posted the day before class, and students are encouraged to annotate them electronically during lecture. Students may also Zoom into the lectures for any reason and without judgement. This is especially helpful for commuters, students who may work late shifts, and students who may be managing their health. The course supports multiple ways for students to collaboratively engage with their peers and the instructor as they learn how to effectively use out-of-class time to review and synthesize material. Simple logging of group study, attending office hours, and attending regular tutor sessions is 10% of the course grade. Providing multiple ways to interact with the course has been particularly helpful as the students who are mostly first-year students learn both the material and how to study effectively for challenging courses that require synthesis and application of foundational material.

Dr. Stephen Perreault

Associate Professor of Accountancy

I’ve utilized UDL principles to address my expectations regarding student notetaking. Students can still take notes in my classes entirely by hand if they choose. However, I now also post a note-taking template for each class (in WORD format), which is organized around my lecture notes, and which allows students to “fill in the blanks” in the template as a means of taking notes. Students can either print out this template on paper and take notes by hand or take notes electronically by opening the template in a tablet device. I also upload a completed version of my note template after each class, so students can see what the completed template should look like and fill in any gaps in their own notes.

Dr. Kelly Warmuth

Associate Professor of Psychology

In my upper-level, discussion-based special topics course, each student was granted an allotment of skips to use at their discretion. To encourage attendance without mandating it, I alternated exit tickets and reading questions. Exit tickets required students to complete a brief reflection at the end of class on a provided prompt to demonstrate their engagement with that day’s content. To check for reading completion, students submitted notecards at the beginning of our book discussion classes with at least two targeted questions that demonstrated their critical thinking while reading. Students who needed the skips due to personal illness, family emergencies, or travel were able to use them with no issue, and those who didn’t need them were able to coast a bit more at the end of the semester. Students were also given choices of prompts for their weekly online discussion reflections, and still had a skip to use if they didn’t want to respond to any of the prompts. The design of this course kept my grading workload manageable, allowed me to track student understanding and engagement on a day-to-day basis, and granted students flexibility when they needed it without requiring prior approval from me. 10/10 – would recommend!