Penn State University

Teach to Reach with Universal Design for Learning

A collaboration between the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Student Disability Resources, and World Campus, this 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 is conducted entirely in Canvas in four weeks and is typically offered each fall and spring semester.

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. Participants apply UDL principles that are appropriate to their individual courses and 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 four hours to complete for a potential total of 16 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.

Course Facilitators

  • Mary Ann Tobin, Lead Teach to Reach Facilitator, Assistant Research Professor & Instructional Consultant, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
  • Lauraine Hawkins, Assistant Professor, Biology, Penn State Mont Alto
  • Gina Pazzaglia, Director, MPS Program in Nutritional Sciences & Associate Teaching Professor
  • Sonya Woods, Accessibility Consultant & Training Coordinator, World Campus


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

Teach to Reach will return in Spring 2023. Registration will open in February at our events page.


Direct questions about Teach to Reach to Mary Ann Tobin.


Penn State University