CSU faculty support more inclusive learning environments


Three CSU faculty have published their research on more inclusive learning environments in a new book chapter in the highly respected Universal Design in Higher Education, 2nd edition.

Universal design for learning is a set of principles that help instructors create inclusive learning environments accessible to students with disabilities and others with diverse learning needs.

Patti Davies, professor and associate dean for research for the College of Health and Human Sciences, Cathy Schelly, director of the Center for Community Partnerships, and Craig Spooner, ACCESS project coordinator, all in the Department of Occupational Therapy, wrote the chapter “Universal Design for Learning Intervention in Postsecondary Education: Results from Two Effectiveness Studies.” It describes two studies conducted by the authors for the U.S. Department of Education-funded ACCESS Project. The studies, both published previously in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, measured the impact of providing training to university instructors on the principles and implementation methods of universal design for learning. The chapter included data not previously published, to represent the full scope of research conducted for the project.

The ACCESS research, led by Davies, broke new ground in the field of universal design in higher education, and contributed much-needed empirical data to the literature. According to the authors, “The two studies reported in this chapter suggest that as little as five hours of group instruction on the use of UDL principles and teaching strategies can increase the implementation of those strategies.… Collectively, these two studies provide evidence that instructor training is an effective way to promote universally designed teaching practices in postsecondary education.”

“This volume contains perhaps the most authoritative collection of articles on universal design in the context of postsecondary education, so it was a real honor to have our article selected for inclusion.,” Spooner said.

More information on Universal Design in Higher Education. 2nd edition, edited by Sheryl Burgstahler, published in September by Harvard Education Press, is available here.

More about the ACCESS Project

The ACCESS Project, which received two three-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, provided faculty training, conducted research and produced a website of useful UDL resources. The project formed a long-standing partnership with CSU’s Institute for Learning and Teaching, which resulted in numerous presentations to faculty and graduate students at events that included the Professional Development Institute, Master Teacher Initiative seminars, the annual Graduate Teaching Assistant Orientation and many regional and national conferences. Another product of that partnership was the inclusion of Universal Design selection criteria in CSU’s prestigious N. Preston Davis Award for Instructional Innovation.

The ACCESS Project was based in the Center for Community Partnerships in the Department of Occupational Therapy, under the leadership of Cathy Schelly. Schelly and Davies served as principal investigator and Co-PI, and Marla Roll, director of the Assistive Technology Resource Center, also served as Co-PI.

More information about the ACCESS Project can be found here.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is in the College of Health and Human Sciences at CSU.