Teachers who have embraced UDL are great advocates for the process of designing learning programs that include diverse learners. However, not all teachers like the ideas – resistance to change being a major factor. This was one of the findings from research on teachers’ perceptions of UDL (Universal Design for Learning).
Perceptions are unlikely to change by mandating instructional changes and consequently other methods need to be found. That is one of the findings from a research project on UDL.
Students benefit socially, emotionally and academically with UDL. However, the successful implementation of UDL is based on teachers’ perceptions. Consequently, promoting equitable instruction requires a positive perception of the UDL model.
Teachers need to see evidence of student success. Real systemic change requires time for teachers to properly learn and implement UDL strategies. That includes professional collaboration, and peer and administrative support.
Mary E. Jordan Anstead investigated the issues and presents them in her doctoral dissertation Teachers Perceptions of Barriers to Universal Design for Learning.
From the Abstract
This qualitative case study was designed to understand teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of UDL. It was designed to identify the barriers to implementation and how to overcome them.
Participants were teachers who had implemented UDL from a public charter school serving only students in Grades 3-11 with low incidence disabilities. Twenty participated in an online survey, seven participated in an individual interview, and three participated in a group interview. Data were coded and analyzed for common themes.
Participants expressed resistance to change, negative impressions of UDL, and disability bias.
Recommendations for administrators included strategies for implementation of UDL, periodic collection of teachers’ perceptions of UDL for formative purposes, modeling UDL for teachers, monitoring teachers’ lesson plans, and classroom observations.
This study contributes to social change by identifying teachers’ perceptions of their own knowledge, needs, and barriers to implementation of UDL in order assist administrators in effectively preparing them for delivery of instructional services to enhance learning for all diverse and struggling students.