Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Jackie Ramey

Second Advisor

Dr. Roger Nasser

Third Advisor

Dr. Missy Lucas


The researcher’s primary purpose in this mixed-method study was to investigate if teachers who applied Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to a unit of study noted increased engagement in students overall and in teacher-identified students considered “disengaged” compared to students in the same unit of study without the UDL methods applied. Additionally, the researcher sought to determine if students in a UDL course had more significant achievement than students in the same unit of study without the UDL framework applied. Primarily, the researcher aimed to ascertain if UDL would benefit the participating district's students, particularly those not utilizing special services.

Participants were asked to complete a three-hour course over UDL before the study began. Via a qualitative survey, teachers answered open-ended questions allowing data analysis that included defined themes of what student engagement and disengagement entailed. Additionally, the researcher asked teachers to categorize their students within their UDL and non-UDL classrooms into one of two categories: engaged or disengaged. The researcher used quantitative analysis to determine if there were differences in achievement between disengaged students in the UDL environment versus the non-UDL environment and differences in achievement between engaged students in both settings. The researcher used a Likert-type question format pre- and post-study via survey to determine growth in teacher mindset regarding student and teacher efficacy.

The results of this study were mixed. While the use of UDL did not show a difference in the increase in student scores from pre- to post-unit, there were positive results from training and the use of UDL in classrooms. Teachers saw increased student engagement and participation, increased enjoyment of content from students, increased mindsets regarding students, and increased confidence in their abilities to help all learners.

This study demonstrated that UDL could increase engagement in students who had been previously identified as disengaged. It cannot be determined if UDL impacted student scores because the quantitative data showed similar scores between UDL and non-UDL classes. The size of this study and the fact that it was designed around a convenience sample of teachers limits its application beyond the district where the study was completed. That said, the results provide a positive implication for bigger studies with a broader scope of participants. Universal Design for Learning is a successful framework. This study only further demonstrates its success in reaching students outside the scope of special services for which research is lacking.


Copyright 2022, Amber D. Hainline.

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