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Rethinking Higher Education Unit Design: Embedding Universal Design for Learning in Online Studies


Inclusive education in Australia has resulted in a concerted push for the differentiation of pedagogical teaching approaches by educators across Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) learning environments.  Such approaches have been shown to meet a diverse range of learner needs found in today's classrooms.  While progress is evident at the primary and secondary levels of education, implementing effective inclusive practices in higher education appears stagnant. Utilising the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in a fully online pre-service teacher training unit, multiple means of representation of the learning content and multiple means of engagement were explicitly incorporated into the online unit design.  This approach aimed to proactively support the engagement of all students in an online teaching and learning environment.  This study provides preliminary evidence that the application of UDL principles resulted in higher levels of student engagement and lower rates of student attrition.

Published: 2023-03-07
Pages:1 to 8
How to Cite
Garrad, T.-A., & Nolan, H. (2023). Rethinking Higher Education Unit Design: Embedding Universal Design for Learning in Online Studies. Student Success, 14(1), 1-8.

Author Biographies

University of Notre Dame Australia
Australia Australia

Traci-Ann Garrad is a lecturer in inclusive education in the School of Education at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney. Traci-Ann’s main field of expertise in the adoption and cessation of evidence-based practices in the education of students with an autism spectrum disorder. Traci-Ann currently teaches a range of units in her areas of specialisation.  These include Inclusive Education, Autism Education and Diversity in Education at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

The University of New England
Australia Australia

Huw Nolan is a lecturer in Animal Ethics and Welfare. Huw’s research focuses on the intersections between science and public attitudes of animal use. He is particularly interested in how education can be used to improve the lives of animals. Huw is the Senior Research Officer in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, at UNE, Armidale and is dedicated to the improvement of tertiary education using evidence-based practices.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795