In “Students Are Making Demands to Spur Campus Change. What Do They Really Want?,” Maddie Berner notes that students around the country have been demanding changes in their college learning environments. They seek:
- More diverse students and faculty
- Safe spaces for marginalized groups
- Diversity Training, including how to add multicultural content to courses and communicate in a diverse environment
- Required Courses on Race and Multiculturalism
With other campus units, the University of Delaware’s CTAL is trying to respond to some of these national demands. In an effort to create “safe” classroom spaces, CTAL has begun conversations (TLCs) with faculty about micro-aggressions, stereotype threat, and how to handle difficult conversations. In addition, it will offer a 4 day institute focused on reforming curriculum and pedagogy with an eye to embracing diversity, being more inclusive, and seeking equity.
CTAL also has funded three faculty scholars who conducted research projects on the status of multicultural education requirement at UD and on inclusive teaching practices. Some of this information will help inform General Education reform and the rest will be shared as a model for other faculty.
These efforts display good intent. We hope they yield good, high-quality practices and positively impact student learning.
When introducing new technologies to the classroom, be aware of how these changes effect students with disabilities. In “As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students with Disabilities Can be Left Behind,” Casey Fabris points out these necessary adjustments:
- Assigned videos need captions
- Give students a sufficient time to respond with clickers. Hearing impaired students who have translators will need more time than those without translators.
- Digitized readings that are in PDF format often cannot be read by screen readers. Documents may need to be in Microsoft Word format.
Universal Design in Learning refers to a set of principles for adjusting curriculum such that a broader set of learners can access academic material and express what they have learned. It was developed and is advocated as a means to provide educational access to students with various learning needs. The three tenets of UDL include: providing multiple means of representation, allowing multiple means of expression, and creating opportunities multiple means of engagement. In “Accessible by design: Applying UDL principles in a first year undergraduate course,” Kumar and Wideman describe the process of incorporating UDL principles in a first year, health sciences course. The case study provides a rich example of how one course incorporated the principles and documents the positive results. One particularly strong outcome was that students felt more in control of their learning, a desirable meta cognitive outcome for all students.
John Larmer provides a very useful primer in this piece. In the end he describes them both as rich, extended learning experiences that engage learners.