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NUDL Resources

NUDL Faculty Examples

UDL can be applied to many aspects of one's class. This page shares examples of aspects of UDL that participants in the NUDL project have incorporated into their classes. Although these are relevant examples, this is not an exhaustive list of how or where UDL can be applies. This page will be refreshed with examples  from NU faculty as they become available.


The syllabus sets the tone for the class. There are many ways to incorporate UDL concepts, one of the most important being setting the tone for the class by indicating your appreciation for diversity. The syllabus for Foundations of Vocal Pedagogy signifies the importance of diversity in the class right at the beginning and includes an example of a request for information that can help the professor get to know the needs of the class. The professor also does a good job of pointing out significant dates and resources by visually distinguishing them with yellow highlighting.

The syllabus for Introduction to Stage Management also provides a good example of setting the tone for the class as one of respecting diversity with the instructor's statement in the instructor overview section. Later, this is reaffirmed with a statement on how to obtain accommodations for students with disabilities.

The syllabus for Production in Context also sets the tone for the class through the instructor overview. It also shows how multiple means of representation of learning were incorporated into the class when it discusses the choices students have for presenting their final project in the community interview project section.


Along with demonstrating an example of multiple means of expression of learning, the instructions for the Community Interview Project in Production in Context shows how the project is broken up into steps so that students can obtain and react to feedback throughout the process of the project as opposed to only receiving feedback once the project is complete.


An important aspect of implementing UDL is not only providing students with feedback, but asking for it from students as well and making adjustments when needed. The instructor for IMC 301 made several UDL-related changes to her class, including providing everyone with extra time on quizzes, allowing quizzes to be taken at home on the students' preferred schedule,  varying the formats of quizzes to include different formats (multiple choice, fill in, essay) questions, making lecture notes available to all in advance of class, and providing clear rubrics on expectations for assignments. Part way through the quarter, the professor surveyed the class for feedback on these changes. Results of the survey show the students' thoughts on the UDL adjustments made in this class as well as a good example of how to obtain student feedback.

NUDL Faculty Reflections

One of the requirements for participating in a NUDL cohort is to provide reflections throughout the process. Participants provided reflections on the summer UDL sessions, implementing UDL in their courses, and advice for other faculty considering implementing UDL. These reflections, directly from faculty, help provide some perspective on what to expect for those considering implementing UDL in their courses.

UDL Session Reflections

NUDL pilot participants provided reflections on their experience with the UDL sessions and how their approach to designing and instructing their classes changed as a result.

  • "I have told anyone who will listen that the UDL sessions were the best course/workshop I've taken anywhere. UDL taught me to strive to keep in mind that we're all different, and we come to learning from different points. UDL pushed this to the forefront of my mind in almost everything that I do that's student related."
    - Desi Hanford, Lecturer, Journalism

Many participants reflected on how their views on disability shifted when thinking in terms of UDL.

  • "My take-away from the seminar was recognizing the value of universal design as a practice and understanding how to recalibrate to a macro-view of my audience and let go of the notion of simply providing accommodations because of a disclosed disability. The readings emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in which educators no longer view disability as a deficit but rather see it as a diversity characteristic. (Burgstahler 2015, 20) I embrace this view wholeheartedly and feel that the seminar helped me take a fresh look at my syllabi through this new lens."
    - Denise Meuser, Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of German
  • "The workshop's breakdown of disabilities represented at Northwestern made me reconsider my understanding of writer's block with an eye on placing it in the disability framework. This change in my attitude helped me think creatively about how I could develop new exercises to address writer's block that were consistent with strategies demonstrated to help students cope with general anxiety"
    - Kathleen Carmichael, Associate Professor of Instruction, Writing Program

The benefit of flexibility/choice in how students submit assignments and feedback opportunities available within larger assignments was also a popular take away.

  • "My biggest take away from the UDL workshops is that I am doing a lot of things right AND I have the opportunity to do things better. For example, my class time is used to present (written, verbal and visual) information followed by group work, hands on practice (creative demonstration) to experience the process. My assignments usually allow for flexibility/choice in the delivery method. There are also a variety of deliverables (not all papers, exams, etc.). However, I struggled with receiving assignments on time even though I gave students plenty of due date lead time.  As part of my learning, I have revised one of my assignments to break the final project into deliverable parts that include my weekly feedback. Breaking the assignments into parts has also helped me think about assessing creativity.  For example, one part of the revised assignment includes a student creativity statement, verbal or written uploaded on Canvas. This revision allows me to know my students better and assess their creativity based on their own goals/statements."
    - Barbara Butts, Lecturer, Theater, School of Communications

Implementing UDL reflection

Following a quarter of implementation, participants were asked to reflect on using UDL concepts in their classes. Participants found changes in their own perceptions that benefited the classroom as a whole.

  • "I have to admit, I thought of UDL first and foremost as a classroom that would accommodate students with disabilities so that we would, collectively, become less reliant on ANU accommodations outside of the classroom. I left with a much broader perspective: that a course designed with UDL in mind creates a more open learning environment for all types of learners. This isn't about ADA as much as it is embracing all styles of learning. It was truly eye-opening to me."
    - Judy Franks, Lecturer, Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill School of Journalism
  • "I was interested and surprised to see that students who did not identify themselves as having disabilities enthusiastically supported UDL interventions. Interestingly, some of the most enthusiastic supporters were from historically underrepresented groups who told me in conferences that these measures helped address some of the anxieties they felt in their first quarter at Northwestern."
    - Kathleen Carmichael, Associate Professor of Instruction, Writing Program

Others truly reassessed their teaching methods and how they affect those with varying learning styles, making changes to create more inviting and accessible classes for all students.

  • "I was surprised at how UDL prompted me to re-assess my teaching format. It inspired me to be more creative with the material by salting it with more hands on demonstrations and not as much straight lecture. I am inspired to continue make making UDL enhancements each quarter I teach the course and like the idea of incorporating more varied modes of teaching (video clips, using acoustic software in class and giving them an e-book vs. plain text option.)Initially, I was concerned that some aspects of incorporating UDL might diminish the level of student preparation and respect for me and the material being taught. What I experienced was a greater sense of investment and ownership in their work as well as gratitude for my flexibility and elements of creativity and humor in class."
    - Theresa Brancaccio, Music Performance, Bienen School of Music
  • "One of the major changes that I experienced in my knowledge regarding UDL was being more aware of my own learning and teaching style, and how that can impact the learning environment in my classroom. For example, I am a visual learner and tend to incorporate plenty of visuals in my lectures and class discussions. This may be different than some of my students' own learning styles. An area that I focused on was being more intentional about encouraging active learning where all students were able to participate in classroom activities."
    - Janice Mejia, Lecturer, McCormick Office of Undergraduate Engineering

Along with changing teaching methods, some participants audited the materials that they use in class and made necessary adjustments.

  • "In previous years, I had patted myself on the back for using a lot of PDFs of readings to help keep costs low. I had not realized, however, that the variability in quality of PDFs could mean the difference between a student being able to access the readings and simply giving up. Once aware, I was able to run diagnostics on my PDFs and locate better options for many."
    - Kathleen Carmichael, Associate Professor of Instruction, Writing Program

UDL advice from faculty

After a full quarter of UDL implementation, faculty participants were asked to provide advice for colleagues who were interested in implementing UDL.

  • "It may be helpful to implement UDL with a group or a partner to share insights throughout the process. There are many resources available, and while it takes time to figure out which ones may work best for your classroom setting, it is definitely worth the time and effort. Not only will it improve student learning, but also their engagement in the classroom. UDL consists of multiple approaches that are not only flexible and inclusive, but are essential in teaching and learning."
    - Janice Mejia, Lecturer, McCormick Office of Undergraduate Engineering
  • "One small change can make a huge difference in student outcomes. Don't feel as though you need to completely rebuild your course to be successful. Take this in bite-sized chunks."
    - Judy Franks, Lecturer, Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill School of Journalism
  • "The advice I would give a colleague about exploring and implementing UDL is to do it and not be afraid."
    - Desi Hanford, Lecturer, Journalism
  • "Take time to discuss UDL principles and research at the start of class. Being transparent and discussing the objectives of the UDL course redesign seemed to promote the students' good faith engagement with the work and support overall class morale."
    - Kathleen Carmichael, Associate Professor of Instruction, Writing Program
  • "Incorporating UDL will invigorate your teaching. It is easy for us to get very settled in our methods and materials, especially when we have taught a particular course for many years. UDL eases stress in the classroom. While certain elements of a curriculum should not be altered, having reasonable flexibility can reduce unnecessary stress on students, (and professors) allowing them to do better work.

    It does take time and a bit of courage to stand back and assess your approach to teaching. Consider beginning with simple steps like re-design of syllabus, reviewing/updating course materials. Gradually get more creative as you add and adjust elements of your class.

    Technology may intimidate some of us, but there are many wonderful resources which can more richly inform and excite your students. Using Canvas to post class notes, links to videos and open-note tests is a good place to start with tech. The point is to educate, engage and inspire students, not to intimidate with ingrained, old-school thinking about learning."
    - Theresa Brancaccio, Music Performance, Bienen School of Music