2022 Faculty Excellence in Universal Design Winner

Photo of Kate Mondloch

AEC is pleased to honor Dr. Kate Mondloch, Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture and faculty in residence in the Clark Honors College, as our 2022 Faculty Excellence in Universal Design award recipient. Excellence in Universal Design involves providing flexibility in the ways in which information is presented, how students may demonstrate knowledge or skills, and the ways in which students are able to engage in a course. Universal Design in Learning (UDL) strives to ensure equity and access for all learners. Kate’s nomination reflected her strong commitment to these practices, including her use of multiple modalities for student engagement, transparency of learning objectives, and her overall commitment to accessibility best practices.

Dr. Mondloch joined the University of Oregon’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture in 2005. Prior to joining the Honors College, Dr. Mondloch served for two years as Interim Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, three years as Department Head, three years as Founding Director of the New Media and Culture Certificate, and five years as Director of Graduate Studies.

Her research interests focus on late 20th- and early 21st-century art, theory, and criticism, particularly as these areas of inquiry intersect with the cultural, social, and aesthetic possibilities of new technologies. Her research fields are wide-ranging and include screen-based media art and theory, installation art, feminism, digital culture, science and technology studies, digital humanities, and contemplative research. She is interested especially in theories of spectatorship and subjectivity, and in research methods that bridge the sciences and the humanities (from https://design.uoregon.edu/directory/history-of-art-architecture-faculty/all/mondloch), which aligns with her forward-thinking approach and commitment to the student learning experience.

Kate’s nomination highlights her emphasis on UDL in all areas of her course. For example, she designed her Canvas site to be web accessible, “incredibly organized” (as one student noted), and to feature asynchronous content that students could work through on flexible timelines. She demonstrated commitment to what UDL describes as “recruiting interest:” designing assignments for student agency and choice, as well as customizing course materials for student interests. She also supported what UDL sees as “student persistence” by having students engage in self-reflection and self-assessment, and by designing in opportunities for collaboration and community. 

Here is some of what her nominator had to say:

The inclusive environment Mondloch creates begins with the diverse perspectives and voices represented in course materials and is carried throughout her pedagogical approach.” “Students are able to structure their movement through the asynchronous material (within certain time constraints). Mondloch also facilitates student engagement by customizing course material to student interests, seeking out relevant examples and local programming based on interests students have expressed during the term.” One student also noted, “I honestly think Professor Mondloch did an amazing job teaching this course and created a learning environment where I could feel and perform my best.”

We contacted Kate to congratulate her and asked about her perspective on the use of Universal Design for Learning. Here is what she shared with us:

“Simply put, my teaching philosophy for universal design is to recognize, invite, and support all forms of participation. In my experience, slowing down is integral to this work—both for myself and for students. I try to accomplish this by offering multiple modes of digital content delivery that students can engage with at their own pace and by fostering small group conversation pods that provide peer support within and beyond the concerns of the course. I also strive to model a responsive, holistic approach to learning during class sessions. As I mature as a teacher, I’ve discovered the wisdom in appreciating that there’s no “average” student and the value of designing courses with that in mind.”

In addition to acknowledging Kate we would also like to recognize one of this year’s finalists, Assistant Professor Clare Evans from the Department of Sociology.

Dr. Evan’s nominator highlighted her commitment to universal accessibility in the classroom and said:

“In Clare’s class she managed to be both understanding of the nuances of the disabled experience and also streamline the accessibility options in a way that was universal to all students which promoted a general energy of inclusion.”

Here is a statement from Clare on her teaching philosophy:

“When the flood of AEC accommodation requests come in at the start of a teaching term, I love to go through them and check that the requests are already satisfied because they are available to all students. Copies of course slides available?—Check. Flexible attendance in case of illness?—Check. Recordings of lecture available for review?—When possible, check. 

For me, a class is universally accessible when most student accommodation needs are already baked into the design of the class, and when the class design can easily be adapted on the fly if a student has a need that hasn’t been encountered before. Though it isn’t always possible to do this, my goal is to innovate new design ideas until I can check off everything on the list. This effort is important to me because I know not every student who needs support or accommodations has a diagnosis yet. Other students may have been too intimidated or overworked to seek accommodations through official channels. By integrating these design choices into standard class operations, this helps make education more universally accessible. 

Everyone learns differently. In the design of my courses, I try to cater to a variety of learning styles, using multiple methods so that students get a ‘bit of everything’ approach. For instance, I provide opportunities to learn through reading, listening/watching (to lectures, assigned videos), writing, practicing/applying what we learn (with low-stakes participation assignments), and discussing course content (in small groups to engage quieter students and in full class discussions). My students tell me that this repetition in different formats helps them to understand and connect with challenging topics and reinforce new ideas.

I also strongly encourage my students to work with the AEC. This helps them not only learn how to advocate for their needs in my class (which I am happy to help with) but it also helps them to secure accommodations in their other classes. At the start of term, I identify myself to my students as a person with chronic health disabilities. I tell them I sought accommodations like these back when I was a student. My hope is that this disclosure will reduce the stigma around disabilities and accommodation-seeking in general.”

Congratulations to Dr. Kate Mondloch and Dr. Clare Evans!

To learn more about Universal Design in Learning and campus resources for teaching effectiveness, please visit AEC’s UDL best practices page.