Ian Alexander Cuthbertson’s Portfolio
I first learned about the UDL framework at a pedagogical workshop on this topic at Dawson College in 2017.
I had already been introduced to the concept of Critical Humanistic Pedagogy through discussions with Cory Legassic, Coordinator of New School and had been introduced to the principles of Active Learning quite by accident when I replaced Marian-Ellen Ring, a UDL alumna and teacher in the Humanities Department and suddenly found myself teaching in Active Learning classrooms.
Universal Design for Learning provided me with a way to focus my interests in Humanistic Education and Active Learning. Whereas I had previously valued these approaches because they fit my own priorities as an educator, UDL allowed me to see how a student-centered approach also works to reduce barriers to learning in general. UDL gave me a framework with which to think about my own interests but, more importantly, about the ways my teaching strategies, assignments, course design etc., affect my students and create or minimize barriers to learning.
My UDL project involved integrating student-directed projects in two of my courses. The idea was to focus on affective networks or the ‘why’ of learning. My goal was to foster student purpose and motivation without relying on general extrinsic motivational strategies in order to maximize student choice and autonomy and thereby increase student interest and performance.
I’ve presented my ongoing thinking on this subject in two ways: a short .pdf document which provides a brief overview of the challenges I faced and strategies I developed, which includes some examples of student work (shared with permission). The longer document (formatted as .pdf and .docx) describes the student-directed project process in more detail and includes my course outlines as well as instructions for the student-directed project and associated assignments. The rubrics I used in each of my classes when evaluating the student-directed projects are also available.