Facultyware: An Online Resource on Universal Design for Instruction
- By Joseph W. Madaus, Sally S. Scott, Joan M. McGuire
With increasing numbers of students with "hidden disabilities" (e.g.,
learning disabilities) and other diverse learning needs accessing higher education,
institutions are challenged to assure access to programs and courses while maintaining
academic and technical standards. Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) offers
an innovative means to promote academic access for a broad range of diverse
learners. UDI represents a paradigm shift from a retroactive accommodation model
of access to a proactive inclusive approach that anticipates and values human
What is UDI?
UDI is based on the concept of Universal Design (UD), an approach proposed in
the late 1970s in the field of architecture (The Center for Universal Design,
1997). UD constitutes an approach to creating environments and products usable
by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation.
Ramps and electronic door openers are examples of features that assure physical
access for those with disabilities but also are useful to many people (e.g.,
a parent pushing a stroller). Applied to the field of education, UDI promotes
the planning and delivery of instruction as well as assessment of student learning
based upon recognition that classrooms are comprised of a diverse audience of
learners. Through UDI, academic and technical standards are maintained, while
the need for retrofitted accommodations are reduced or eliminated (Scott, McGuire,
& Shaw, 2003).
Faculty at the University of Connecticut Center on Postsecondary Education
and Disability (CPED) have identified and operationalized the nine principles
of UDI that offer a framework for the design and delivery of instruction as
well as the evaluation of student learning (Scott, McGuire, & Foley, 2003).
The principles are designed to assist faculty as they reflect upon their teaching
and incorporate inclusive approaches that are responsive to diverse learning
Faculty from a range of subject disciplines and postsecondary settings are
currently incorporating one or several examples of the principles in their instructional
techniques. In order to share these inclusive practices, instructional techniques,
or "products," are displayed on the project Web site, www.facultyware.uconn.edu.
Each product has undergone a two-step juried review process to ensure that it
is reflective of one or more of the nine principles of UDI, and that it is of
high quality and usefulness to a broad range of academic disciplines.
Overview of the Product Review Process
To ensure that posted products are both exemplars of UDI and usable by faculty
from a range of disciplines, a product review process was designed. This process
was modeled in part after a peer-review process for postsecondary instructional
materials used by the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online
Teaching (MERLOT; www.merlot.org).
When a product is submitted by a faculty member for inclusion on the Facultyware
Web site, it is posted to password-secure areas of Facultyware. These secure
areas were established for two panels of expert reviewers, a group of experts
in UDI, and faculty from more than 30 disciplines who are involved in project
activities. Both groups of reviewers complete orientation materials prior to
participating in the review process. Within password-secure areas of the Web
site, reviewers view the instructional product and complete the appropriate
The UDI panel rates a product on the extent to which it reflects each of the
nine principles of UDI. Because many products may be reflective of some, but
not all of the principles, a product may be considered suitable if the mean
rating for any of the principles is 3.0 or higher on a 5-point Likert scale
(1 = Low Reflection of UDI; 3 = Moderate Reflection of UDI; 5 = Very High Reflection
of UDI). Simultaneously, the product is reviewed by members of the faculty panel.
Products that meet a mean criterion of 3.0 or higher on a 5-point Likert scale
(1 = Poor; 3 = Good; 5 = Excellent) for quality and usability meet the standards
for posting on the Facultyware Web site.
Products meeting established criteria in both areas are posted to an open area
of Facultyware called "Instructional Freeware" (http://www.facultyware.uconn.edu/freeware).
Ratings and qualitative comments from both review panels are included, as are
more detailed comments, additional reference information, and samples of the
product rating forms. The product submitter receives a letter of acceptance
from the project similar to acknowledgement of manuscript publication in an
academic journal for use in Promotion, Tenure, and Reappointment files.
Given the increasing diversity of students in higher education classrooms,
resources for developing inclusive instructional strategies are important. Facultyware
offers sample products that have undergone a rigorous two-stage electronic review
by national experts in UDI and by postsecondary faculty nationwide to ensure
that products are reflective of the principles of UDI, are of high quality,
and are generalizable to a range of disciplines. Because the entire process
is conducted electronically, it is convenient and time saving for product reviewers
and UDI project staff. The true beneficiaries of the review process, however,
will be visitors to the Facultyware site, who can access high-quality instructional
products that exemplify the principles of UDI.
Hanley, G.L., & Thomas, C. (2000, October). MERLOT: Peer review of instructional
technology. Syllabus Magazine, 14, 3.
Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. (2002). Retrieved
July 22, 2002, from http://www.merlot.org/Home.po
Scott, S., McGuire, J., & Foley, T. (2003). Universal Design for Instruction:
A framework for anticipating and responding to disability and other diverse
learning needs in the college classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education,
Scott, S.S., McGuire, J.M., Shaw, S. (2003). Universal Design for Instruction:
A new paradigm for teaching adults in postsecondary education. Remedial and
Special Education, 24(6), 369-379.
Scott, S. & McGuire, J. (2001). Universal Design for Instruction Product
Submission Packet. Retrieved January 21, 2003 from Center Postsecondary
Education and Disability, University of Connecticut.
The Center for Universal Design (1997). Principles of Universal Design.
Retrieved July 22, 2002 from North Carolina State University, Center for Universal
Design web site: http://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/univ_design/ud.htm
This Viewpoint was developed under a grant from the US Department of Education,
Office of Postsecondary Education (#PR333A990036). The opinions, however, do
not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or policies of the USD'E.