Using Blogs to Overcome the Challenges of a Research Methods Course

Using Blogs to Overcome the Challenges of a Research Methods Course

Susanne Croasdaile (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA), Rachel Angel (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA), Erin Carr (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA), Lucy Hudson (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA) and Carin Usrey (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-347-8.ch011
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Background

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for teaching and learning based on brain research (Rose & Meyer, 2002). UDL is a lens through which educators design instruction to consider student needs. An appealing aspect of this framework is its emphasis on separating the goal of learning from the instructional method, often capitalizing on the opportunities presented by flexible digital text.

UDL takes into consideration three things: recognition brain networks, which benefit from multiple, flexible representations of content; strategic brain networks, which benefit from multiple, flexible means of expression and apprenticeship; and affective brain networks, which benefit from multiple, flexible means of engagement. The strategic networks help learners plan and carry out tasks. This includes activities from whipping up a strawberry-banana smoothie in the blender to comparing prices of new cell phones on the internet to writing a formal five-paragraph essay. In each situation, we determine what we want to do (goal), determine how we will do it (plan), get started (execution), and decide how we did (evaluation) (Rose & Meyer, 2002). Affective brain networks support not the planning and execution of tasks, but one’s engagement in learning.

The strategic and affective networks are of interest in this discussion—without the former, students could accomplish nothing; without the latter, they would not even try. Recent research has demonstrated how students achieve higher educational outcomes in courses using UDL design principles (Simmons, Willkomm, & Behling, 2010); this area is worthy of further exploration.

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