Teach to Reach: Maximizing Learning for All Students

A collaboration between the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Student Disability Resources, World Campus, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), this non-credit course is open to faculty of any rank or status, teaching assistants, and post-doctoral instructors from all disciplines and members of the learning design community.

This free, non-credit, and entirely asynchronous online course, conducted entirely in Canvas is offered each semester during the academic year. This fall, the course runs October 4 - 31, 2021.

Course Description

In the built environment, Universal Design enables each of us to gain unimpeded access to a particular place, whether or not we require some form of accommodation. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) applies a similar set of brain-based, research-backed principles to learning environments, regardless of their format or structure, enabling all students to have multiple ways to engage with course content. The course includes 3 pre-recorded presentations by Allison Posey, CAST Curriculum and Design Specialist, and discussion and practice based on information drawn from teaching and learning literature on UDL, as well as from the experiences of individual participants. Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to identify, select, and apply UDL principles that are appropriate to their individual courses. Participants may be invited to submit the results of their course work as exemplars in future SITE courses and events.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • define and apply UDL principles in course or lesson design and planning;
  • integrate UDL teaching and assessment strategies that enhance student learning;
  • locate resources on UDL principles available at Penn State and elsewhere; and
  • contribute to a repository of UDL exemplars for use by other Penn State faculty.

Course Topics

Course topics include UDL principles; the current brain science around the interaction of emotion and cognition; strategies for designing learning experiences for engagement; and techniques to help students become persistent, self-regulated learners. Note that these topics may be revised slightly if necessary to meet the needs of the course participants.

Course Structure and Assignments

The course is divided into four online modules asynchronously conducted in Canvas, each of which may take up to three hours to complete for a potential total of 12 contact hours. The primary course methods include readings, videos, and pre-recorded webinars; online discussions; a final project applying UDL to an instructional activity; and a peer edit of the final project. This format provides a structured but flexible means to engage in hands-on, individual activities specific to each participant’s instructional context and to exchange ideas about teaching, learning, and implementing UDL.

SITE awards a completion certificate to participants who participate in all online activities and weekly discussions and successfully complete one certificate assignment (one UDL-inspired class activity with a corresponding assessment tool). While this course does not serve as a formal, credit-bearing certification process, it does provide you with documentation of your participation it. This certificate may be included in your teaching portfolio or annual review as evidence of your professional development.

Guest Lecturer

Allison Posey, CAST Curriculum and Design Specialist, Allison Posey (photo) participates in curricular design, online course instruction, and leads professional learning programs, including the CAST UDL Symposium.

Dr. Posey works with educators to integrate and apply current understandings from brain research about learning into instructional practices so that all learners are able to access, integrate, and become expert learners. She also coordinates CAST's free webinar series, free resources, and focuses on the central role of emotions in learning. Posey received a degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked there as a teaching fellow for courses such as Educational Neuroscience and Framing Scientific Research for Public Understanding. She also holds a Certificate in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute of Art.

Course Facilitators

  • Lauraine Hawkins, Assistant Professor, Biology, Penn State Mont Alto
  • Gina Pazzaglia, Director, MPS Program in Nutritional Sciences & Associate Teaching Professor
  • Lynn Pierce, Graduate Intern, Student Disability Resources
  • Mary Ann Tobin, Assistant Research Professor & Instructional Consultant, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
  • Sonya Woods, Accessibility Consultant & Training Coordinator, World Campus

To Register

Register before Friday, September 17 at our Events page.

Enrollment is limited to 20 participants. Registration is conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants will be notified via email prior to the start of the course.

Why Teach to Reach? Past participants have said …

"I had been working to improve accessibility in my classes and was curious about the idea of universal design. This course started me on a personal journey that has enriched both my classes and the quality of my professional life."

"Connections to resources, organizations, and people who focus on UDL inspire me as I think about my own teaching."

"Prior to this workshop, I knew the idea of UDL but I didn't understand it or have concrete strategies to help me implement the principles in my classroom. Now I have a much fuller understanding, informed by neuroscience research and pedagogy, as well as many resources I can draw upon for more information."


Direct questions about Teach to Reach to Mary Ann Tobin.