Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy with a Concentration in Education Leadership and Policy (PhD)

First Advisor

Jeff Beaudry, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Robert Sanford, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Audrey Bartholomew, Ph.D.


As diversity of student enrollment increases, postsecondary institutions
must address the inclusiveness of physical and virtual learning environments.
Doing so requires engaging faculty in a conversation about their online pedagogy
and course design. This study employs Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a
means for faculty to reflect on and solve instructional problems in their courses. It
follows a sequential, exploratory, quasi-experimental, mixed-methods approach.
Instructor-focused, in-depth interviews capture the experience of instructors as
they reflect on their personal history that led them to teaching. They identified a
portion of one of their online courses to improve and selected modifications
inspired by the UDL framework. They also reflect on the subsequent interactions
with their students with a focus on changes they have observed in relation to the
modified portion of their course. The student-focused portion of the study
examines the effect these modifications have on student outcomes through
quantitative and qualitative analysis of their responses to a survey. The student-
provided data were compared across control and treatment sections for each
course. This study demonstrates how the UDL framework and guidelines can be
used as a tool for qualitative research in addition to its traditional role as a
prescriptive model. The synthesis of all data from the study provides
postsecondary educators with an empirical account of UDL’s utility and attempts
to address barriers to adoption.