universal design for learning in manufacturing

Mindfulness in Manufacturing — A UDL Success Story

The world runs on manufacturing. A field all too often overlooked, manufacturing plays an indispensable role in shaping the success of every sector. From medical supplies to toys and goods, our health, efficiency, and leisure would suffer without the success of manufacturing. Within the limitless realms of this profession, welding stands as a cornerstone — binding together raw materials to create structures, machinery, and intricate designs essential to modern life.

For prospective welders, becoming an expert demands both technical proficiency and a set of cognitive and emotional skills. Amidst the sparks and metalwork, educators in Welding programs find themselves at the intersection of skill-building and character development, tasked with fostering resilience, self-regulation, and determination.

As a student-centered University, Goodwin helps foster and empower future manufacturing leaders. Better still, through Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Goodwin instructors provide comprehensive support — scaffolding learning to help students achieve their highest potential.

For Welding associate professor Carole Del Vecchio, M.Ed., UDL has proven an invaluable asset for shaping the minds (and mindfulness) of students. Read on to discover how UDL positively impacted Carole’s classroom.

Making Learning Mindful — Nurturing Success with Social and Emotional Support

By: Carole Del Vecchio, M.Ed.

Regulating the “why”

For those unfamiliar with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), its structure is divided into three partitions: Engagement, Representation, and Actions and Expression. Checkpoint 9.2 (facilitate personal coping skills and strategies) falls within the Engagement section, or the “why” of learning. Within the area of Engagement, Checkpoint 9.2 falls into a subdivision called Self-Regulation. With this principle in mind, I decided to include social and emotional learning (SEL) in my classrooms because younger students critically need assistance developing healthy coping skills.

Mentoring Mia

I had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring a wonderful young woman named Mia, a recent graduate from our Welding program. She added such positive energy to the class but admittedly lacked self-confidence. Learning new welding skills takes a great deal of patience and self-control. The first few weeks of the program test every new student as they adjust to a foreign environment and deal with the discomfort of their welding equipment. Welding helmets tend to slip off or slip sideways, cables can get in the way, and determining the best body position to use in a welding booth is challenging. I make every new welding student aware that I went through all the same mishaps and self-doubts when I started welding. I assure them — repeatedly — that I have 100% confidence they will end up as welding professionals if they keep practicing.

Mia would often ask me to assist her by showing her how to perform a weld. She would say she understood, and I would move on, leaving her to practice. However, when I would go back to check on her and offer timely feedback, her booth would be empty, and she would be nowhere in sight. Of course, I would locate her and reinforce that short breaks are often the perfect stress relievers — emphasizing the word “short” and teaching her mindfulness techniques. Mia learned about savoring the moment without self-judgment and deep breathing to re-center her focus. I routinely let my students know I am always available to help them replace their counterproductive practices with more productive ones. I consistently reinforce the idea that the only way to progress is one day at a time, one step at a time.

Embracing student autonomy

My experience as a teacher has taught me that strengthening students’ executive functions and being transparent about my successes and failures offer strength and hope. I recently received a revelatory text from Mia. She was ecstatic. While there was a time when she was too terrified to call the Registrar’s Office over a hold on her account, today, she sent photos of a women’s conference she had attended sponsored by her sheet metal union. She also informed me that she has become an avid follower of Suzi Orman and is learning everything she can about financial literacy. It sounds like she has grasped the concepts of self-direction and scaffolding her way through life.

Carole Del Vecchio, M.Ed.

Teaching is my third and final career. I was born just over the Connecticut/Massachusetts line in Longmeadow. I started my education at Smith College many years ago and ended up running several businesses instead of becoming a foreign language teacher. I came full circle in 2007 when I re-started my education to become a teacher!

I call Enfield, Connecticut my home now (only fifteen minutes from my childhood stomping ground). I live on a small farm with my son, Ethan, and our new puppy, Marlowe. I have my own welding/fabrication shop where I teach my skills to others as well as restore antique muscle cars and motorcycles.