Universal Design for Learning and Welding
Goodwin’s commitment to classroom innovation shows results in previously unexpected fields
by Kobie Adams, Goodwin College Intern
At Goodwin College’s School of Business, Management & Advanced Manufacturing, Assistant Professor Keith Carter has created a curriculum for the Welding program, which utilizes strategies of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to accommodate students with varying learning preferences and abilities. The curriculum focuses on finding the most effective ways for students to take part in hands-on exercises and other options to enhance their learning experience.
The 24-credit program covers topics ranging from welding safety and fabrication to common welding methods including shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, and thermal cutting. Coursework teaches students to navigate a welding worksite safely and includes projects that mirror the type of work they will eventually be doing in the field.
Perhaps not the first setting that comes to mind when thinking of innovation in educational philosophy, but in the Pent Road, East Hartford, facility, that exactly what’s happening in Professor Carter’s classroom.
The purpose of the UDL is to identify the best way to relay information to the students; this approach focuses on identifying teaching strategies that best fit the students. UDL examines different ways to teach material, how students respond to material, and how it impacts their learning. A curriculum utilizing UDL is built on principles that reflect a concern for the well-being of the students: providing students with multiple ways of acquiring information and knowledge; allowing alternative ways for students to demonstrate what they know; and attempting to involve the interests of students to increase motivation. Professor Carter was a fellow in the third cohort of Goodwin College’s UDL training program and presented on his work in reimagining the coursework on Welding.
Unlike previous methods of classroom delivery, the new guidelines for this course focus on encouraging students to work with their peers to solve problems and perfect their welding techniques. Professor Carter separated students into teams and allowed them to work independently on the Virtual Reality Welding Training Simulators (VRTEX). This peer-focused dynamic enabled students to learn the techniques and material at their own pace with the guidance of faculty, the assistance of their peers, and their own experience.
Utilizing the VRTEX equipment allows students to work continuously on different welding techniques while receiving guidance on their work from their peers. In the end, they receive a detailed overall grade from the simulator, which also gives them a different grade for each part of their welding.
“The virtual welders allow students to learn the material faster, so when they enter the welding shop, problems we would notice before the incorporation of the UDL are no longer there,” says Professor Carter. Working in a UDL setting, with access to the virtual equipment, students quickly gain the experience that is necessary to be successful in their careers.
And, indeed, students enrolled in welding courses are developing at an amazing rate. “After four sessions on the simulator and a short time in the welding lab, students are able to perform their welding techniques through a mirror, which is a very advanced skill,” adds Professor Carter.
For more information on the Welding program, please visit the Goodwin website.
(as of Summer 2019) Kobie Adams is a senior studying at Franklin Pierce University, majoring in communications focused in journalism and minoring in public relations. Kobie was responsible for gathering information and constructing posts and articles about the programs and courses offered in the School of Business, Management, and Advanced Manufacturing.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.