Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Shepherd, Katharine


Today‘s college students, who are often referred to as ―Millennials‖, are entering college with different expectations for learning than students born before 1982 (Howe & Strauss, 2000). They expect to be able to access information instantly with their smart phones or laptop computers. At the same time, increasing numbers of students entering higher education have a disability of some kind. Some of these are observable disabilities that require specific accommodations to learning materials and the learning environment, such as ramps for students using wheelchairs and interpreters for students with hearing impairment. Students with learning disabilities represent a kind of ―invisible‖ disability in that their challenges may not be readily observable by faculty members, but must be accommodated through changes to curriculum materials and instructional approaches. One of the greatest challenges to meeting the needs of all students is the perception of negative faculty attitudes toward students with disabilities, and the subsequent choice made by many students not to disclose a hidden disability (Getzel & Wehman, 2005; Madaus, Scott, & McGuire, 2003; National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports (NCSPES), 2000). Within the last 10 years, a new way of designing learning for K-12 students has emerged to address the needs of all the learners in the classroom. This framework for design is called Universal Design for Learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002). More recently, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has begun to be introduced to faculty in higher education as a framework for course design that meets the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. This mixed methods study explored the promise of the UDL at a small New England research university where a faculty professional development model was implemented to enhance the use of UDL practices among faculty members. A baseline study of faculty attitudes was conducted in the fall of 2010. One hundred ninety-two faculty members responded to the survey, yielding a 30% return. In addition, four faculty who had participated in the UDL grant consultation team model and who taught classes of 65 students or more were interviewed for the purpose of gathering information on their perceptions of the effectiveness of the model. Results of the volunteer faculty survey revealed positive attitudes from the majority of respondents, with at least 60% indicating that they ―strongly agreed‖ with four of the five questions related to the provision of learning accommodations for students with disabilities. In contrast, less than 30% of respondents indicated they ―strongly agreed‖ with statements demonstrating their general knowledge of disabilities and/or knowledge of disability policy and law. Four main themes emerged from the data analysis of the faculty interviews. These themes addressed faculty members‘ descriptions of general course modifications made as a result of the UDL consultation team work, description of their course, reflections about the UDL consultation team model, and the processes through which faculty members chose to refer themselves for course design assistance from the UDL consultation team. Overall, results of the study suggest promising practices for professional development designed to increase use of UDL approaches in higher education. Further research is needed to determine the transferability of this model among a larger range of faculty and higher education institutions.