On Tuesday, May 3, Goodwin College hosted a day-long educational workshop on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people, based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Staff from CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization based in Wakefield, Massachusetts, facilitated the day-long workshop for full- and part-time faculty, held at Goodwin’s Business and Manufacturing Center in East Hartford.
A $129,788 three-year grant, awarded to the College in November 2016, made the professional development experience possible. The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.
“It’s an honor to be awarded a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation,” said Marion Leonard, Goodwin’s Senior Director for Grants and Planned Giving. “The Goodwin College/Davis Foundation partnership supports our faculty’s professional development that is critical to creating an environment where all students can learn and succeed academically.”
The partnership will likely benefit other educational organizations as well. “Goodwin will be the Davis Foundation’s beta site to determine if other colleges and universities can benefit from adopting UDL’s core components,” Leonard added.
UDL is an innovative approach to education based on cognitive neuroscience research. The UDL framework is used to develop flexible learning environments that accommodate individual differences within a student population. The concepts of inclusivity, fairness, and equity are the foundation of the UDL framework.
The workshop consisted of several task-based challenges that encouraged innovative thinking and thoughtful discussion. The presenter, Allison Posey of CAST, effectively increased faculty understanding of UDL-based practices and provided opportunities for hands-on implementation.
In order to better serve Goodwin students, faculty cohorts will participate in Universal Design for Learning workshops over the next few years. These cohorts will implement ongoing UDL instruction, and provide long-term, job-embedded professional development for participating faculty members.
“Our instructors are among the most committed I’ve ever worked with when it comes to supporting student learning and success,” said Danielle Wilken, Goodwin’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. “We are extremely pleased to provide them with professional development that authentically expands their skill sets to create student-orientated classrooms that address the wide range of student abilities.”
With a range of academic offerings that include certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and the newly added master’s degrees in Nursing and Organizational Leadership, Goodwin believes that UDL will increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes within its increasingly diverse student body.