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Combining UDL and AI to Support Inclusive Pedagogy

By Sally Hyatt

Completing CEL’s Basics of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Certificate Program allowed me to build a more inclusive pedagogy for my students. Just before I completed the certificate program, ChatGPT became universally available, and this sparked a desire for me to also adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) within my classes. Being exposed to both AI and UDL for the first time allowed for a unique opportunity to introduce an assignment that adopted each within two of my Spring 2023 classes. The use of these approaches led to an exploration of the utility of UDL and AI being combined to support an inclusive pedagogical approach.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a pedagogical approach specifically designed for students with disabilities, which accounts for learner variability and supports student autonomy with built-in choices. Adopting a social model of disability, UDL proposes that all students should be given multiple options in how they become engaged with the material, how course materials are represented, and finally in how students express their own learning. During the Spring 2023, I applied principles of UDL by offering students multiple means of demonstrating their learning through AI-based assignments.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assignment

Utilizing principles of UDL, the assignment I adopted used Artificial Intelligence to explore a topic of the student’s choice. Students created a paper using ChatGPT on the topic, then critically examined the output using multiple options for demonstrating their learning.

Specifically, students were assessed on their ability to: understand the utility and limitations of AI for developing academic content; develop a critical refection and revision of a paper written by AI; and understand a topic of choice related to course content more deeply. Students generated a written three-page output using AI, then provided a critical reflection of the output in one of three ways to demonstrate their learning:

  • Video reflection: Create a video discussing reflections and edits to the paper, highlighting limitations, strengths, and inaccuracies provided by AI.

  • Paper re-write: Re-write the paper generated by AI, correcting inaccuracies, as well as adding and improving content throughout.

  • Comment bubbles: Provide editorial feedback using a preferred platform, add written comments throughout the paper, correcting inaccuracies, improving content and highlighting content missed.

The choices students made in their demonstrations of learning illustrated a need for UDL options. Students chose between thee formats equally: 35% of students chose the video reflection, 35% of students chose to re-write the paper, and 30% of students chose the comment bubble option. Additionally, grade averages differed only by 7% between the three options, with the video option having the highest grades overall, further supporting the success of the UDL approach.


As an instructor, I seek a collaborative teaching philosophy, creating a classroom environment where students feel they can voice ideas and criticism openly. During course discussions where the AI tool was being used, students shared confusion about how to use the proper prompts to generate useful responses from the AI tool. Often their outputs were too long or too short, diverged from the central topic or provided surface-level discussions of the topic prompted. Going forward I will instruct students on prompt engineering to help alleviate their frustrations. For all of us, teacher and student alike, if using AI, we first need to understand how to ask the right questions to produce the desired output (prompt engineering). This is a skill I will now help develop in my students.

Exploring how an AI-based assignment can be used, in combination with Universal Design for Learning, was enjoyable endeavor that resulted in creating a more inclusive pedagogical approach, as well as increasing my students’ AI literacy.


Dr. Sally Hyatt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counselor Education & Student Affairs at Kutztown University and recently completed the Basics of Universal Design for Learning course as part of the Center for Engaged Learning's Inclusivity Institute.


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