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Universal Instructional Design

Universal Design (UD), a concept pioneered by Ron Mace and rooted in the field of architectural design, emphasized the importance of anticipating the needs of an increasingly diverse public. In educational settings, Universal Instructional Design can be defined as the design of instruction to be usable by all students, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universal Instructional Design (UID) takes UD concepts and applies these principles to the design of:

  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Instructional materials
  • Instructional strategies
  • Facilities such as buildings and classrooms

Considerable research in the field of post-secondary education and students with disabilities has focused on the implementation of UID to create classrooms more accessible to all students through faculty development. A number of colleges and universities, including the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Program from the University of Washington, the Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD) Project from the University of Minnesota, and the University of Massachusetts’ Equity and Excellence in Higher Education: Universal Course Design, have developed an impressive array of faculty development workshops and materials regarding the topic of Universal Instructional Design.

Achieving College Success Now! (ACeS) built upon such successful faculty development workshops through the concepts regarding the transition experience and skill set of incoming students with disabilities, and the understanding of the underlying principles of universal instructional design. UID materials were utilized and delivered with the specific focus on the needs of community college students, who represented learners with a wide range of abilities, disabilities, levels of preparation, learning styles, English language learners, races, ethnicities and ages. The design and delivery of UID principles, strategies, and curriculum modifications that met the needs of this broad spectrum of learners with diverse characteristics were presented.

The ACeS grant utilized principles adapted from Chickering and Gamson’s “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” (1987) and the Center for Universal Design’s “Principles of Universal Design.”

Principles of Universal Instructional Design

P1: Create a welcoming classroom

P2: Determine the essential components of the course

P3: Communicate clear expectations

P4: Provide constructive feedback

P5: Explore the use of natural supports for learning, including technology, to enhance opportunities for all learners

P6: Design teaching methods that consider diverse learning styles, abilities, ways of knowing and previous experience and background knowledge

P7: Create multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge

P8: Promote interaction among and between faculty and staff

Training Sessions

The following sessions provide additional training on the principles of Universal Instructional Design:

Student Centered Teaching through Universal Instructional Design complete session PowerPoint version with notes

Part I: Overview of Universal Instructional Design PowerPoint version with notes

Part I: Overview of Universal Instructional Design narrated version

Part I: Overview of Universal Instructional Design captioned version

Part II: Universal Instructional Design Principles 1-4 PowerPoint version with notes

Part II: Universal Instructional Design Principles 1-4 narrated version

Part II: Universal Instructional Design Principles 1-4 captioned version

Part III: Universal Instructional Design Principles 5-8 PowerPoint version with notes

Part III: Universal Instructional Design Principles 5-8 narrated version

Part III: Universal Instructional Design Principles 5-8 captioned version

© 2010 ACeS All Rights Reserved, US Department of Education OMB No.1890-0004

Northampton Community College