Dr. Jennifer Williams joins College STAR program

Dr. Jennifer WilliamsThe College STAR program has a new face whose mission is to champion Universal Design for Learning both at ECU and throughout the College STAR community.

Dr. Jennifer Williams has joined the program as the newly created UDL Faculty Fellow, taking a pause from her role as Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research at ECU. She has also assumed the responsibilities of ECU College Star director Diane Majewski.   Majewski has moved to a new role with the ECU Honors College.

“As a special education teacher, I have always been interested in recruitment and retention activities so I am really looking forward to pursuing that interest in higher education,” Williams said.

She explained that she first learned of UDL upon her employment at ECU in 2004.“ The UDL framework conceptualized many of my beliefs regarding up-front planning for learning, building on students’ strengths, and creating learning environments equal for all,” she said.  “I initially started teaching our general and special education candidates in the College of Education ways to incorporate UDL into their classroom teaching in the K-12 setting.  Additionally, I worked with K-12 classroom teachers through consultation and professional development on integrating UDL into instruction and classroom environments.

 “In 2009, I realized the importance of actually modeling effective teaching with UDL principles in my courses and the positive impact the framework has on postsecondary students at ECU,” she continued.

Williams’ new role comes with a long “to do” list.   She will be working with the STEPP Program and the ECU Office of Faculty Excellence to infuse the principles of UDL across the ECU campus.   This will include mentoring individual faculty members around practical implications of UDL in their classrooms and facilitating the development of UDL “champions” from various student support offices and environments on campus.

She also will be analyzing results from the Student Voices survey to identify what ECU students perceive as effective instructional practices across the campus.  “Within my own instruction,” Williams said, “student evaluations have been valuable in helping me to identify where to clarify assignments, provide additional feedback, engage students in their learning, and make connections between content.

“I have a continued interest in incorporating technology into face-to-face and online courses to facilitate multiple means of representation, engagement, and student action and expression,” she added.

Another area of focus will be College STAR Learning Communities which extend beyond ECU.   Williams said the first one to get up and running will be on the topic of Assignment Choices.  

“We are delighted to have Jennifer join the team as the UDL Faculty Fellow,” said Dr. Sarah Williams, College STAR project director.  “Her passion will allow us to build upon the UDL momentum that is already a rich part of the College STAR program.   We are excited about the many new opportunities this position and Jennifer’s expertise represent.”