Office of Disability and Access

  • Triangle representing components of universal design. One corner reads “usable,” the next “accessible,” and the final reads “inclusive.” The middle says “universal design.”

Dr. Brian Pfennig: Integrating Universal Design

Using universal design strategies can help to enhance both the student and professor learning experience! Universal design strategies of learning addresses how learners take in information to their brain and how they process and report back the information they learned.

Dr. Brian Pfennig uses several universal design strategies for learners to take in information and to report back the information learned. First, Dr. Pfennig is intentional with learning goals and competencies for his course. Identifying what you need learners to know is an important first step to understanding how to express and assess content!

Second, Dr. Pfennig identifies different ways for learners to learn information which includes access to previous lectures, in person live learning, and access to currently recorded lectures to review at the pace of the learner.

Third, Dr. Pfennig provides multiple opportunities and ways to assess whether or not the learner has mastered each learning goal. Learners have 4 options for assessment to choose from, with a total of 3 that they could engage with to receive points. Typically, in Dr. Pfennig’s courses, students can earn up to 10 points for each learning goal. With the 3 options that the learner chooses, the learner can earn a combination of points to equal 10 for each learning goal. The first option for assessment is that random assignment questions can be used to achieve the learning goal; the homework questions(s) are set up as open ended with recognizing that learners learn best by putting information into their own words. A second option is to meet with Dr. Pfennig 1:1 during office hours to verbally answer questions related to the learning goal. A third option is to correctly answer questions related to each learning goal on a standard exam. A fourth option is to retake the exam 2 weeks later with adapted questions.