Modeling Universal Design for Learning Techniques to Support Multicultural Education for Pre-Service Secondary Educators

By Pearson, Mary | Multicultural Education, Spring/Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Modeling Universal Design for Learning Techniques to Support Multicultural Education for Pre-Service Secondary Educators


Pearson, Mary, Multicultural Education


Introduction

As with all levels of education, secondary level classrooms, typically from grades fifth or sixth to grade twelve, are increasingly becoming more diverse as the population of students changes in the Unites States (Lopes-Murphy, 2012; McGuire-Schwartz & Arndt, 2007; Strobel, Arthanat, Bauer, Flagg, & Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Transfer, 2007). Pre-service midlevel or secondary level educators need increased training on how they can best teach in a multicultural setting to assist all their future students to succeed in learning (Lopes-Murphy, 2012; Spooner, Baker, Harris, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Browder, 2007).

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has been found to be a beneficial framework and planning process for educators of all grades to learn and utilize in order to increase educational gains for all students, (Benton-Borghi, 2013; Lopes-Murphy, 2012; McGuire-Schwartz & Arndt, 2007; Spooner et al., 2007; Strobel et al., 2007). Harac (2004) states: "Its researchers claim that with the right materials, technology, and training, teachers can make all lessons flexible enough to benefit every student-including those considered 'disabled'" (p.1).

Studies have shown that, even with limited exposure to training in UDL, especially related to lesson plan creation, secondary and other educators can display an increased ability to incorporate UDL related teaching techniques that can benefit all learners in today's diverse classrooms (Lopes-Murphy, 2012; McGuire-Schwartz & Arndt, 2007; Spooner et al., 2007; Strobel et al., 2007).

According to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), UDL "is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn" (2013a). UDL incorporates multiple means of engagement, action and expression, and representation to assist educators in creating curriculum that is accessible to all learners (CAST, 2013a). Thus it is argued that all teachers need to know how to utilize UDL for their classrooms-especially secondary level teachers (Lopes-Murphy, 2012; Casper & Leuchovius, 2005; Kortering, McClannon, & Braziel, 2005; Jimenez, Graf, & Rose, 2007).

While all teachers should know how to create UDL classrooms and lessons, many future secondary teachers are not well prepared in their teacher education to understand and successfully implement UDL (Lopes-Murphy, 2012; Spooner et al., 2007; Strobel et al., 2007). As Gay stated (2002): "Teachers' knowledge about and attitudes toward cultural diversity are powerful determinants of learning opportunities and outcomes for...different students" (p. 613).

The purpose of this article is to review a process of introducing future secondary educators to UDL in a teacher education course in a southern university in the United States. The article will review how the higher education instructor modeled UDL techniques to future secondary educators in a course they took which focuses on teaching future educators to work with diverse students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELL), and other diverse learners.

The university students were introduced to UDL via "flipping the classroom techniques" and active learning techniques, and were then assessed by creating UDL lesson plans in their content areas and modeling part of their lesson plans to each other.

Flipping the Classroom

Utilizing technology in all areas of education is important, especially when modeling teaching techniques to future educators that can include all learners (Dinmore, 2013). Utilizing flipped learning techniques can be a good way to incorporate technology into learning and make learning more Universally Designed. As the Flip Learning Network (2014) describes:

Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. …

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