Program 8: Student Reaction


From the instructor's standpoint the implementation of Universal Design for Learning Principles in this class seemed to be a success. However, the real measure of success depends on what the students thought. After this class, several students sat down to share their opinions on many different aspects of the class.

Noel's overarching goal was to create a more learner centered environment that reached everyone's strengths. The students felt that he did this by varying methods of instruction and using tactics as such group work and role play instead of just lectures. Role plays were particularly effective for kinetic learners.

I really like role plays because, I'm more of a kinetic learner I learn by doing and most classrooms are not geared toward that at all, it's either visual or hearing there's not a lot of doing and I really like having things to do.

Others felt that the easy access to information lead to a more learner center environment.

It's much more geared toward the convenience for the learner, so that, you know, your information is always out there on the web we can, you know, go through icon. So I thought it was much more learner based.

Also, having information in different formats was helpful to students with different learning styles.

You know it's useful to people with disabilities, but we all, to varying degrees, use different styles of learning, while we're learning. And so even, you know I consider myself a person who can learn through a lot of different medias, having it all of those, really enriches the experience I think and really makes, makes the information that much more accessible to me.

As part of varying instruction, Noel also showed several captioned videos. Students who didn't originally think this would be helpful, ultimately ended up benefiting from it.

Closed captioning, I was surprised does help a little Because it's hard to know that you didn't hear what was being said because you didn't hear it. And so I do like closed captioning, at first I didn't like having to read what people are saying because it's different. They kind of shorten what is being said. But I think it can really help, having to get information in two different formats at the same time.

Closed captioning's benefits for students with disabilities is obvious. But it can also for students' who's primary language is not English.

To people that speak another language, it will be very helpful to have the closed caption and you can read, in case that you miss something.

In terms of class products, students appreciated receiving PowerPoints and class outlines ahead of time, as they help them prepare for class and they act as valuable reference tools.

It was very helpful because not only did it make it easier to be more prepared for class ahead of time it was, makes it easier to go back and do sporadic, quick little checks.

The most popular addition of the class was the provision of class notes through the use of the SmartPen. Which students felt allowed them to focus more of their attention in class.

I've found that I take much fewer notes with the SmartPen, which for me is actually good, because sometimes you get so caught up in the writing and keeping track of that stuff that you don't get the here and now of what is being said in the lecture.

They also appreciated having a means to go back and listen to previous information.

Then when you can go back to hear exactly what was said at that time, then that's so much better.

Although this method of note taking is designed to benefit all students, it especially helps students with disabilities to obtain success in a class without the need for accommodations.

I have a hearing loss and so I am unable to take notes for myself and having a copy of the notes online helped a lot

A common concern with providing lecture notes using the SmartPen is that students would begin skipping class, but the students in this class didn't really see that as a concern.

But you get a lot more when you come to class and I don't see that being a big problem in a small class.

Throughout the class, students quickly picked up on how the concept of Universal Design for Learning can help students with various learning styles. One of the students best summed up the theory of Universal Design for Learning with this following observation, on how it helped people in this class and impact it could have on others.

Like she said having things available in different formats really just makes learning much more accessible to people who learn differently. In the past, you know, if you could read or take notes you could do well in school, but if you couldn't do those things, well you were labeled, you were labeled. You were labeled as not being able to learn.

And um, there are a lot of very bright people, who I have known in my life, who are not living up to the potential that they feel they could be. Because when they were going to school they didn't learn the way that the teachers expected them to learn. So it really held them back a lot.

Implementing UDL