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Universal Design for Learning: Changing the Way We Interact With Diversity  

Suzanne Stolz

Universal Design for Learning, widely known as UDL, is a framework for creating flexible curriculum and pedagogy that provides access for all students, giving the opportunity to build from their strengths. First introduced in 1998, UDL is centered on three principles: (a) provide multiple means of engagement, (b) provide multiple means of representation, and (c) provide multiple means of action and expression. In applying the framework in K–12 or postsecondary schools, educators first consider the diversity of students, their assets and needs, the barriers that interfere with their success, and then plan lessons that are widely accessible. UDL has close relationship with technology as it provides various ways to present content, engage students, and demonstrate their learning. Research and policy, largely in the United States, support the growth of UDL. Research has created UDL tools like the Strategic Reader, produced recommendations for implementation, and measured efficacy. The National UDL Task Force, a coalition of stakeholder organizations has worked for the integration of UDL principles into local, state, and federal policies. Critiques of the framework note a dearth of empirical evidence and inconsistency in the research. They also help identify a path forward in designing new research and attending to complications in the framework that might better address diversity and bring students to the center.

Article

Pedagogy for Inclusive Education  

Tim Loreman

A number of different pedagogical approaches have been presented as being helpful for teachers working with students in inclusive learning environments. These approaches were developed in the late 20th century and were largely derived from models of special education. Many of them are still evident in classrooms around the world today. Based on approaches that appear to have been effective, a set of principles for the development and implementation of inclusive education pedagogy, as identified in the academic literature, can be discerned. These principles, however, are best viewed through a critical lens that highlights cautions for teachers engaged in inclusive teaching. Examples of inclusive approaches that align with some basic principles of inclusive pedagogy include but are not limited to Differentiated Instruction, Universal Design for Learning, and Florian and Spratt’s (2013) Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action framework.

Article

The Role of Mentoring in Teacher Education  

Nicole Hayes and Bruce Pridham

Mentoring is a positive, supportive facilitation of learning and development between a person with more experience, knowledge, or expertise in a certain field, and a person who is less knowledgeable or is new to that field. In the tertiary setting, mentoring programs take on many forms and structures, with a range of objectives such as support for transition, academic supplemented instruction, and social support. All mentoring programs, regardless of structure, are fundamentally a transactional process of support underpinned by a mutually respectful relationship. The foundations of mentoring are drawn from theoretical frameworks grounded in social constructivism, social learning, applied learning, and developmental theory. These frameworks inform aspects of collaborative learning and outline the multiple benefits for participants including the building of interpersonal, problem-solving and communication skills, increasing academic success and motivation. Successful mentoring programs are conceptualized and planned to ensure the program meets its objectives, has sound processes, clear expectations and roles for all participants, and an effective evaluation system for continual refinement and improvement. When the objective of the mentoring is to increase academic knowledge and skill, the greatest success occurs when the mentor has the expertise, experience, and the ability to scaffold the personal construction of meaning for the mentee. In initial teacher education (ITE) contexts mentoring programs derive successful outcomes for the mentee, mentor, academic teaching staff, organization, and ultimately the profession. The less able students require support and scaffolding to promote and enhance deep learning and the mentor experiences altruism, while refining and practicing pedagogical skills. Mentees and mentors gain self-efficacy, confidence in pedagogical skills, and inter- intrapersonal skills. Staff are able to support diverse open learning tasks to accommodate a personalized learning approach for large cohorts with trained mentors working in the classroom providing point-of-need feedback to maximize learning gains. The university gains through low-cost innovations that increase levels of academic success and positively influence retention and student satisfaction. Society benefits from the resultant high-quality graduates, who are “classroom ready” and prepared to meet the challenges of complex learning environments. Mentoring plays an integral role in the development of teacher professional identity through modelling and intergenerational relationships. Changing accreditation requirements and government-led inquiries into initial teacher education courses have prompted a review of current practices in the tertiary sector. To better meet the needs of the workforce, universities have a greater responsibility to demonstrate the classroom readiness of graduands. Successful teacher education programs utilize mentoring to support and enculturate the next generation of practitioners and ensure they are work ready. Structured mentoring programs transform the student experience, and create cohesive program designs to guide and support preservice teachers who are engaged in the process of learning and reinforcing their positions as developing teachers. Students in near-peer mentoring programs develop a range of mentoring skills and experiences that complement their academic development as they enter the teaching profession.

Article

Understanding Adult Pedagogy and Technology Use  

Mary Dereshiwsky

Theories exist in number that concern how adults learn. Despite surface differences, these theories also contain common themes relevant to adult learning. They include self-direction, problem- or need-based motivation to learn, the ability to anchor past experiences to make meaning from current learning, and the skills to self-assess one’s learning experience. Given the prevalence of technology in virtually all areas of personal and professional life, a solid understanding of how to use technology effectively is essential for 21st-century adults. At the same time, these adults are often hampered by anxiety and past negative experiences related to technology use, especially in the learning process itself. How can instructors leverage the best practices of adult learning theory to create meaningful learning experiences for adult learners? In order to address this question, it is important to understand the unique characteristics of adult learners as a first step. Instructors should also self-reflect and consider how their own attitudes and experiences can shape how they use technology with adult learners. With learning theories in mind, designing meaningful learning experiences with technology for adult learners can optimize learning experiences.

Article

Reading Comprehension and Culturally Diverse Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand  

Stuart McNaughton, Rebecca Jesson, and Aaron Wilson

It has proven difficult to establish how best to promote valued outcomes in reading comprehension for students in culturally diverse schools. Efforts are constrained by the disparities communities served by these schools often experience in physical, social, economic, and political conditions. However, principles are being developed for the effectiveness of schools, using four perspectives. The first is consideration of reading comprehension as a cognitive, linguistic, and cultural activity, which includes aspects of well-being such as cultural identity. The activity takes different forms, including one new form of digital literacy. Second, principles need to be underpinned by an understanding of how disparities in comprehension develop over time, through adopting a “life course” perspective. Over the life course, channels of socialization are afforded by both family practices and instructional conditions, and features of each are associated with disparities over time. Finally, criteria for what counts as success include enhancing distributions of achievement, promoting and protecting cultural identity, and overcoming system variability. Four principles of note are (a) increasing opportunities for students to learn; (b) providing textual depth and breadth; (c) making discourse and culture central to intervention designs; and (d) design-based research partnerships that can change practices at scale. However, achieving successful educational outcomes for students using these and other principles depends on considerable commitment, resourcing, and time, including reconfiguring of the role and responsibilities of researchers.

Article

Conceptions and Models of Teacher Education  

Maureen Robinson and Rada Jancic Mogliacci

Initial teacher education programs across the world bear many resemblances to one another in respect to their overall design features. Students generally follow courses that teach them foundational knowledge pertaining to education, like psychology or sociology, disciplinary knowledge in particular subject areas, and general and specific pedagogical knowledge. In addition, students are exposed to varying degrees of school placements. Despite these similarities in overall structure, the curriculum content and activities of teacher preparation may vary considerably, dependent on the underpinning conceptions of the goals and purposes of the program. Historical and geographical contexts also influence the choice of particular goals for teacher education. Conceptions of teacher education can be clustered in a number of major approaches, each with its own subcategories. Although different terminologies may be used in the literature, the six major categories are as follows: a social justice approach, a master-apprentice approach, an applied science approach, a teacher identity approach, a competence approach, and a reflective approach. Each approach has certain key features and implications for curriculum design in teacher education, including vision, goals, content, teaching and learning methodologies, and the relationship between schools and colleges/universities. An example here is the difference between an applied science approach, based on the notion of teachers putting theories into practice, and a reflective practice approach, where teachers are encouraged to construct personal theories in and from practice. A second example of the different emphases is the extent to which education is located within its larger social context, with the relationship between school and society being more explicit within a social justice than a competence approach to teacher education. Conceptions may be implicit or explicit; in reality, most programs embody hybrid models with emphasis in particular directions. The articulation of the key concepts, principles, and assumptions that underpin the design of teacher education programs contributes to the field in various ways. Promoting an understanding of different traditions of teacher education helps establish a shared vocabulary and knowledge base; this can improve the quality of teacher education through deepening academic debate and enhancing program coherence. In addition, strengthening the conceptual base of teacher education supports the professional autonomy of teacher educators, through advancing debate on the purposes, ethics, and politics of education and providing tools to discuss the curriculum implications of policy reform.

Article

Social Innovation Pedagogies and Sustainable Models for Future Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and Citizens  

Roisin Lyons and Rahmin Bender-Salazar

The use of innovation to address our social or environmental needs is now critical. Globally, we are faced with numerous challenges which require novel, robust solutions that consider multiple scenarios and stakeholders. Innovation education has often been siloed into enterprise, business, and engineering programs to bolster the innovative potency of startup ventures and internal corporate processes. However, social innovation education (SIE) has merit in all disciplines, and for all citizens, to address these emergent global challenges. Social innovation as a concept and field is related but independent from the concept of innovation, and the pedagogies currently in use in these domains are in early development and practice. Social innovation relates to the creation of new ideas displaying a positive impact on the quality and duration of life. Theories of significance to SIE are rooted in the fields of design, creativity, and education while continuing to expand and evolve. A fitting pedagogy for social innovation should foster socially aware students who have both critical- and systems-thinking skills, empathy and an appreciation for human behavior, and who can leverage innovative competencies to develop solutions for positive social impact. In order to successfully create effective learning spaces, we contend that the curricula elements of (a) empathy, (b) locus of control, and (c) speculative thinking, should be embedded into all SIE learning designs.