On April 1, Diana J. LaRocco, Goodwin College’s Social and Educational Sciences Department Chair, served as a featured panelist on “Universal Design: Education-Based Practices,” part of a one-day conference designed for educators about strategies for improving the success of college students with Autism. “Higher Education and Students with Autism: What We Know, What We Need to Know, and How we Get There” was hosted by the University of Saint Joseph and co-sponsored by the Hartford Consortium and the Center for Higher Education Retention Excellence with support from Aetna.
Joining LaRocco on the Universal Design panel were Joan Nicoll-Senft of Central Connecticut State University and Kathleen Whitbread of the University of Saint Joseph. Concepts such as inclusivity, fairness, and equity, LaRocco reported, form the foundation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). At its core, UDL is about providing each student with the same advantages or opportunities for success. When faculty members intentionally design teaching and learning environments that are inclusive, fair, and equitable, colleges are better able to attract diverse students and retain them through program completion.
LaRocco spoke specifically on three Connecticut-based studies in which UDL principles and guidelines have been used as a point of reference for faculty to begin to think about proactively designing curricula, implementing instruction, and assessing what students know and are able to do so all students can be successful.
“Goodwin College believes in supporting our faculty members as they share their expertise with the greater community,” said Danielle Wilken, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Goodwin College, of LaRocco’s participation. “This conference is a wonderful example of working together to improve best practices throughout education.”