A disciplined application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Supporting teachers to apply UDL in ways that promote disciplinary thinking in English Language Arts (ELA) among diverse learners

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A disciplined application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Supporting teachers to apply UDL in ways that promote disciplinary thinking in English Language Arts (ELA) among diverse learners

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Title: A disciplined application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Supporting teachers to apply UDL in ways that promote disciplinary thinking in English Language Arts (ELA) among diverse learners
Author: Gravel, Jenna W.
Citation: Gravel, Jenna W. 2017. A disciplined application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Supporting teachers to apply UDL in ways that promote disciplinary thinking in English Language Arts (ELA) among diverse learners. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: This qualitative study used design-based research to explore how teachers can be supported to apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in ways that promote disciplinary thinking in English Language Arts (ELA) among diverse learners. Using a purposive sampling strategy, I recruited three upper-elementary teachers who were interested in exploring the intersection of UDL and disciplinary thinking in ELA. This study occurred over eleven months and included three phases: 1) establishing a baseline for each teacher in terms of current practice and current understandings of UDL and disciplinary thinking; 2) collaboratively designing, implementing, and refining an individualized intervention with each teacher; and 3) reflecting on our collaboration. Data were collected throughout these phases via classroom observation, collection of instructional materials and student work, teacher interviews, and regular meetings. The analytical framework for this study joins CAST’s UDL Guidelines and common themes of disciplinary thinking in ELA distilled from the literature and piloted in my qualifying paper. Data were analyzed to determine how teachers’ practice, understandings, and beliefs evolved; how students’ disciplinary thinking evolved; and which aspects of the interventions were useful in developing teachers’ practice, understandings, and beliefs. A case study approach was used to dive deeply into each teacher’s journey, and a cross-case analytic approach was used to uncover common and divergent themes. The findings underscore the potential synergy between UDL and disciplinary thinking and reveal the rich student thinking that is possible when UDL is leveraged for disciplinary aims. Further, the findings contribute to existing conversations on teacher change by exploring the influence of teachers’ preexisting practices and beliefs on their learning trajectories and by identifying the factors and conditions of the interventions that facilitated teacher growth: developing the lenses to “see” evidence of student thinking, leveraging tools for specific aims, and attending to the affective nature of the learning process. Together, these findings have potential to inform leaders in schools, districts, and organizations who seek to support teachers to apply UDL to encourage all learners to engage in disciplinary thinking in ELA—and who seek to support teacher learning at a broader level as well.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33051610
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