Universal Design for Learning as Pillar of Trauma-Responsive Education

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Universal Design for Learning as Pillar of Trauma-Responsive Education
Stream: Mind, Brain & Psychology: Human Emotional & Cognitive Development & Outcomes within Educational Contexts
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Danielle M. Eadens, University of Central Florida, United States
Daniel W. Eadens, University of Central Florida, United States


Students and educators across the globe experienced disruption, turmoil, and unwanted change in the educational processes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic violence intensified, mental illness spiked, and profound loss affected many in the education system. Trauma-Informed (TI) approaches paired with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) could be a vital part of a larger systemic change fundamental to how we approach teaching and learning to build mastery and resiliency. Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) was initially developed based upon three main pillars: safety, connections, and managing emotions (Bath, 2008). A newer approach targeting individuals with trauma backgrounds is Trauma Based Response Intervention (TBRI), which similarly posits three pillars: connecting, empowering, and correcting. TBRI’s implementation with at-risk populations has highly notable results (Reid, Proctor, & Brooks, 2018). Dr Will Henson (2020) specifically recommends the TI approach as a vital part of the pandemic education response and noted four similar keys, "focusing on wellness, building relationships, providing predictability and addressing students’ regulation deficits". Complexifying the response, some students with trauma in their backgrounds can also be neurodiverse and/or have disabilities. UDL is arguably an additional bastion to trauma-responsive education. Notwithstanding, a TI approach void of UDL would likely not fulfill student needs, unfortunately leaving them in classrooms with learning loss, trauma, and magnification of other life stressors. This paper unpacks proven strategies of UDL as an additional pillar of Trauma-Responsive education, reviews qualitative responses from educators on the topic, and suggests practical tools for educators crucial to the health and well-being of education constituents.

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