Embedding Universal Design into Intensive Learning Experiences
This paper reports on the findings of a study investigating a new intensive instructional design approach called the “Cheese Sandwich”. The Cheese Sandwich was used to create the “Effective Learning and Teaching” (EL&T) course at a post 1992 British University. EL&T is an intensive 3-day course for staff new to HE teaching, aligning with the institutional commitment to Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The aim of the study was to uncover the extent to which participants in EL&T encountered an intensive learning experience reflecting the UDL principles. A second aim was to assess the importance of those UDL principles in effectively supporting participant learning. Participants were 30 university staff enrolled in EL&T. The extent to which participants encountered an intensive learning experience reflecting UDL principles, and the extent to which they perceived those principles as effectively supporting their learning was assessed via the UDL perception survey. The survey consists of two main dimensions; 1) the extent to which respondents experienced learning and teaching practices reflective of UDL on their course and; 2) the extent to which respondents perceive those practices to be effective in supporting their learning. Each dimension consists of 36 items adapted from the UDL “checkpoints”. Responses to each dimension are made on a five-point Likert scale (1 – 5). Of the 36 items in Dimension 2, 29 received a mean score ≥3.5, meaning they were considered “very” or “extremely” effective for learning. For each of the 29 items considered “very” or “extremely” effective, participant perception was that they occurred “often” or “always” in EL&T. The Cheese Sandwich appears to be an effective intensive instructional design tool, enabling the embedding of UDL into intensive learning experiences, with demonstrable perceived benefits for learning.
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