Responding to neurodiversity and shifting campus culture with Elizabeth Coghill

In this episode, Lillian interviews Elizabeth Coghill, Director of the Pirate Academic Success Center at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Elizabeth outlines what her tutoring center is doing on the campus of East Carolina University to implement Universal Design for Learning strategies in a holistic way that welcomes all students to campus.  With a particular interest in reaching neurodiverse students, Elizabeth and her team enagage all students with whom they come in contact and set them up for success in college.

Resources 

Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk “The Happy Secret to Better Work” This talk beautifully outlines the process of learning while incorporating “happiness” brings greater creativity and success. THe emphasis is on process, not product.

Follow the Pirate Academic Success Center at East Carolina on Twitter and Instagram at: @ECU_PASC     

https://pasc.ecu.edu/ Pirate Academic Success Center website

http://libguides.ecu.edu/Neurodiversity : Information regarding neurodiversity and higher education

NCLCA  National College Learning Center Association

AHEAD  Association on Higher Education and Disability

Transcript

[Lillian]   Welcome to Think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast.  Where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind.

[Music]

I’m your host, Lillian Nave, and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding, and facilitating; but, how you design and implement it, and why it even matters.

[Music]

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Think UDL podcast.  In this episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Elizabeth Coghill, director of the Pirate Academic Success Center at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.  Elizabeth and I take the opportunity to speak about what the tutoring center is doing on the campus of East Carolina University to implement Universal Design for Learning strategies in a holistic way that welcomes all students to campus, with a particular interest in neurodiverse students.  Elizabeth and her team engage all students with whom they come in contact, and set them up for success in college.  Elizabeth, it certainly is great to finally get a chance to talk with you after following what you have been doing on your campus for several years and seeing phenomenal results.  So, thank you so much for joining me on the Think UDL podcast.

[00:01:42]

[Elizabeth]   Thank you so much, glad to join you.

[00:01:44]

[Lillian]   So, I have a first question I ask all my guests and that is what makes you a different kind of learner?

[00:01:52]

[Elizabeth]    You know, I think that’s kind of where the inspiration sometimes comes from in working with higher education and working with students, because for me, as a learner, I had to be a very active learner.  I had to go very much beyond what was happening in my class lecture and to search for ways to learn the materials that were beyond just an auditory experience, or even some visual experiences.  And, for me, that meant creating my own tests and quizzes and grading them and going over them over and over again, taking very detailed notes from my textbook, and pulling it– pulling that information out and being really active with it.  And those are some of the things that we try to teach students to do, because when they transition to higher ed or to a college campus, they don’t know how to do that.  They haven’t been challenged in the way that they needed to be to do that.

[00:02:47]

[Lillian]   Sounds like a lot of that is teaching yourself to learn, trying to get the right points that is going to help trigger your brain to do the remembering, right?

[00:02:59]

[Elizabeth]   Right.  And what we try to do is first identify with a student what kind– you know, what are the ways that they learn best?  And then take it from there in terms of adapting to their faculty.  You know, I know with College STAR, one of our goals is to have faculty begin to change the way that they present materials.

[00:03:23]

[Lillian]   Sure, yeah.

[Elizabeth]   But in the meantime, students need to be able to be successful, and the ones that we talk to, our tutors or our mentors, they’re high achieving because they’ve gotten very savvy about taking materials from the class and adapting them to themselves.  And I consider that kind of being an active learner, that you are actively working with that material in the way that you learn, and not sitting passively hoping someone else is going to take you there, but to make sure that it– that learning happens on your own.

[00:03:59]

[Lillian]    That’s fantastic.  So you are doing so many things over there at East Carolina, at the Pirate Academic Success Center, and I know it started on this journey with College STAR that’s, you know, making this podcast possible, but way back in 2012 with the  introduction of learning all about UDL, can you take us through that process of kind of your introduction, and then what you’ve done with UDL and meeting the needs of your learners?

[00:04:26]

[Elizabeth]   Well, I had the privilege to go to an AHEAD conference and sit through a pre-conference session on UDL; and it was really geared towards faculty members, but as I sat there as a learning center director, I saw the correlation right away of the things that happen in a classroom, and how can we do something a little bit different.  How can we take tenets of UDL and place them within a tutoring–as in a service, and then really start to started to gain ground from that.  And I think it was opening our minds to why it was so important, and it– the biggest piece was, it for all learners.  So often on a college campus, we think that the Disability Support Services office is the one that’s responsible, and actually you have to wake up and realize that we’re all responsible for our students to be successful, and it has to be beyond accommodations.  It’s got to be embraced by every Center and every part of our campus, and so that was my hook that if I did this work then all students who walked through my doors could feel comfortable and could learn in the way that they need to and have a fighting chance to do well in these classes in their majors.  So, it’s really rewarding once you get going to actually do that and see it happen on your campus. 

[00:05:49]

[Lillian]   So, this is really a collaborative effort, and it takes not just the professors and the students but, you know, a real community of learners, and that’s so much what a college experience is, is that we are meant to be in community and learn together and it sounds like you’ve got a lot of great ways to help a diverse group of learners at East Carolina over there.

[00:06:15]

[Elizabeth]    You know, as we equip our tutors– and we’ve really spent a lot of time with training, and how do we really get the UDL message, and really understanding different types of learners and getting them to– as a tutor– to embrace how do I apply when I’m learning, how do I represent materials in multiple ways in one session.  Because we often don’t have the ability to go ahead and just have, you know, in a session with students, the ability to know everybody’s learning style, or everyone’s approach, or this student may be neuro-diverse in a way than another student is, and I don’t get that opportunity, but if I sit there as a tutor and I present my materials in varied ways, I know I can hit all those marks.  And that’s what we’re teaching students to do.  But then in like I hope that they’re going out and using it themselves, but also starting to model that to our faculty.  So, we can educate faculty through sessions and workshops, but we also can educate faculty through our tutors, who are high achieving students on our campus, and they bring it back into their study groups, and their presentations in class, and they– it goes full circle.

[00:07:34]

[Lillian]    I must say that when we’ve had conversations with our students who are in the “As You Are” program over at Appalachian State University, it is their– the students recommendations that have changed my teaching the most, because the students are telling me, right, what they need and what other professors have done or used or offered them, and I think oh that’s a great idea I never would have thought of offering these set of notes, or this option for students, they said that is the, you know, has been the best thing for me, and I thought well I never, that never would have done it for me, but I see how much it helps the students.  So, getting that collaboration from like all different levels has been really eye-opening and world-changing for the way that I’m teaching and also talking about UDL.  So, it’s a really great point.

[00:08:27]

[Elizabeth]   From our side, when we watch the learning that happens in our Center– and it’s really providing the right tools for students as tutors to then incorporate those into their sessions– when we watch that happen, we’re really giving students permission to learn in a different way, and allowing them then to be an advocate for themselves.  So, when they have the courage to go to a faculty member and suggest something, or talk about their experiences, or model it in the classroom, that’s somebody that was given permission to do that.  Because so often our students come in and they’re very respectful and of their faculty, but they don’t engage their faculty, and they don’t ever ask for something to be done a certain way because that’s the way they learn.  So we’re never really in that open dialogue, and when we can allow students the opportunity to have that dialogue, that’s when that true learning starts to happen.  And, you know, it’s noisy, it’s messy sometimes, they’re all throughout our floor in our learning center, but it’s exciting to watch the learning that happens, and them exploring concepts in a way that they would never do if they were just sitting and studying by themselves. 

[00:09:41]

[Lillian]   It’s really empowering.

[Elizabeth]    Absolutely.  And for our neurodiverse students especially, because we’re not putting them in a special spot on campus, you know, if they need a quieter location to work with a student, that’s, you know, our tutor will absolutely do that.  But the majority is you don’t see a difference, you know, if we can present materials in lots of different ways, I don’t ever really have to tell you that there’s a reason why I need it presented a certain way.  And it empowers them to really be an active part of the higher education campus.

[00:10:21]

[Lillian]   Right, and of their education, which becomes a lifelong learner, too, right, what happens after their four years, or five years, but their time in college, and then they go out and they’re in the job world, and they need to learn something new, they need to add on something else to their resume or their skillset, they will be able to take whatever that information is and make it usable so they can, in essence, teach themselves and make sure that they have been able to learn it, and you’re teaching them those skills to be a lifelong learner.

[00:10:52]

[Elizabeth]   And with our students who are serving– who are tutors or academic mentors– we always kid them that every year they come back, things won’t be exactly the same, because if we are exactly the same as we were five years ago, then we’re not doing our job.  So even modeling how we research new areas, how we’ve taken a journey from first Universal Design for Learning, and then taking a much broader jump to looking at what’s happening with neurodiverse learners who are increasing in number on our campuses, who are– need services beyond just accommodations– accommodations is the beginning, it’s not the end of what they need, and how do we make our campus a welcoming environment?  So for us we’ve had to model doing the research, sharing those articles with our students and challenging them– our tutors or mentors– to look at it from a very different perspective and really grow in their own profession as a peer educator on campus.

[00:11:58]

[Lillian]   And can you give an explanation or maybe a definition or examples of what you mean by neurodiverse students, and maybe what sort of things that in– that you’re doing in order to serve your neuro-diverse students?

[00:12:15]

[Elizabeth]    And really, neurodiversity is saying that there is no normal, that everybody may process or think a little bit differently, but that we don’t have to lump or segment a group and label them.  And, for me, the journey to really understanding neuro diversity in the last year or so, and really expanding what we’re doing here has been that recognition of so many students coming in who have had diagnoses or IEP’s in high school, and all those services start to end and they don’t– they’re not equipped to make the jump.  And so it’s helping students like them be able to be in an environment that understands them, that doesn’t judge them, and then allows them to really flourish, and that’s what UDL can happen– you know– help us do, but also on my staff’s part is the understanding of watching for some clues sometimes if a student doesn’t want to disclose the kind of help that they got in high school, or what’s really going on, but watching for clues and being able to have a dialogue with a student to make sure they’re getting all the help that they can get, you know, sometimes that’s behind the scenes making sure that that’s happening for them.

[00:13:37]

[Lillian]    So, in your tutoring center, you have a really diverse set up, too,  and a very flexible setup that you can serve a lot of different kinds of students, a lot of different kinds of study groups, a lot of different ways of learning.  I was wondering if you could kind of describe even just the space, and the way you go about things there that helps to serve this variety of learners?

[00:14:04]

[Elizabeth]    Absolutely. When we were so fortunate several years ago to build a space, and we were able to build it really around UDL, and thinking of how we can create spaces where students collaborate and that students can also move and adapt.  Because when we provide tools to a tutor to work with a group of students, they need to be able to move around.  They need to– if it’s modeling, or we’re going to get up and create a bond for chemistry, and I’m going to do it with the students in my group, I have to be able to move around.  And we have technology to support their efforts as well.  I think one of the biggest game changers for us is we are creating– using OneNote, allows the tutor to display their materials on an LCD monitor that becomes like a virtual or digital whiteboard.  But at the end of the session, they can email their notes to all the students that they met with, and the notes from that session and in OneNote I can pull images on from online, I can create a periodic chart, I can do all kinds of things for those students in that group, but in allowing us to send it to them at the end, that allows students to listen in a way they don’t in lecture.  They’re so often– especially our freshmen– so busy writing that they’re not really listening or engaging with the material.  So it’s just even the design of flexibility in that design allows students to then be able to tailor how that session’s going to go for them, and work with their tutor to develop things that work for them in their learning process and give them that freedom.  The other thing is we’re wide open.  Our space is one that you’re not protected, you’re not behind a door, you’re– you can see other people being tutored, and that early on changed a culture on our campus to not be afraid of it, to not feel like there’s something wrong with getting extra assistance, or to want to achieve an A and you have a B and that gives you your competitive edge, but to see lots of other students learning, that’s important too. 

[00:16:23]

[Lillian]   That’s really changing the stigma that a tutoring center might have, or sometimes, students also may even have this idea of I can’t hack it, or a sense of shame, or something like that they shouldn’t need to go, right, for extra help, that I should be able to handle this all by myself.  What do you say to those students?

[00:16:44]

[Elizabeth]   Well, I think a lot of our young men think that way.  And they’re the group that struggles the most in their freshman year, and so they tend to come in very late in a semester and– for assistance– and they’ll wait to try to do it by themselves, and it’s meeting them where they’re at, at any point during the semester, never denying service.  But also, I think we give hope to students, and that sounds kind of hokey, but, you know, we have an opportunity to welcome them when they come into a space– our space– to make the campus warmer for them, and to believe in them, and to just kind of plant some seeds of hope on how we’re going to approach it.  And even if something doesn’t go perfectly, to have the grace to meet that student where they are.  But what I’m finding is that we’re really challenged across campus to change the way we talk with students and work with them.  And as we have more students maybe who are on the spectrum for autism or have Asperger’s and they’re coming in and working with us, we need academic advisors to understand the difference in those students.  We need folks and dean of students in the registrar or anywhere on campus to begin to educate themselves a little bit more on how we welcome neuro-diverse students onto our campus.  I thought it was really interesting recently I was at a meeting with College STAR and we were talking about what our why’s were, you know, and I think you have to have a champion on your campus, and then you have to have folks that will join that– that group, and really kind of push.  There are a lot of parents,, or brothers or sisters that have been touched by a student their family member having ADHD, and watching that struggle.  For me, it’s my son which who had a recent diagnosis in his 20s, and then we begin to put the building blocks together, and figure out what can we do for him.  Well, there’s a lot of why’s out there, and I think if folks on college campuses would get together and start to talk about their why, but then they get motivated by that, my son didn’t have the best experience in higher ed, and so each student that comes through our door who struggles with the same kinds of things, I want them to have a better experience.  And some of that comes from education, so that we’re educating each other on the ways that we can welcome all students, but especially the ones who may feel marginalized, like you’re describing, marginalizing the higher ed system.

[00:19:27]

[Lillian]    And it really sounds like you are at the vanguard of this culture change that the College STAR,  that what you and other leaders, change makers are doing, especially on the ECU campus, is moving that needle for what education is.  Which, for many students going through high school, is a lot of competition.  It’s who can get a higher GPA, who can get an AP, how many AP credits, or things like that, and it’s in essence it’s not so much about learning, it’s about achieving, and then and that’s how you get into college in many respects.  But once you’re there, you really want to be learning, that yes we still have grades, but grades are so much less important than the actual learning that we want to happen, and that is collaborative, it’s not competitive, it’s not only two people can get an A, and then three people can get a B, right, what a huge change that is in the mentality of students that we also need to get across to sometimes even professors, instructors, but we really– how can we make that a campus-wide community?  And it looks like you are already doing that, and it’s something I think a lot of us can learn from to make that change happen.

[00:20:24]

[Elizabeth]    I think it’s celebrating achievements that may not be a 99 on the paper, you know, so for us it’s celebrating when someone gets a C, you know, that sounds hokey, but in the beginning, maybe that’s where they need to be at, and then we then we encourage them for more than that.  But as students are finally able to learn and collaborate on that learning, and really absorb that material, the grades come.  I had someone in my doctoral program, one of the faculty members say that, and I went in like the students who were very focused I want an A and I only want an A, and he had talked about, if you come in here for the experience, and what you can learn, the grade will be there.  And I got it, I understood what he was saying and started to change the way I was approaching it.  And, so yeah, it doesn’t mean you still don’t want your A,  but it allows you the opportunity to really learn something from the experience, and so often the high school experience is about memorization and then the college experience is about experience, right, and to really embrace that something new that you’re learning; and that’s what we’re trying to do, is get them beyond just focusing on that multiple-choice test, you know, to really understand that– the materials, and go well beyond that. 

[00:22:20]

[Lillian]    You know, I have my freshmen watch Shawn Achor’s TED talk on happiness, and it’s very similar, about– we always say well if I get the A, then I’ll be happy, if I pass the test, or if I get into this school, then the happiness comes.  But if you flip it around into the experience of what you’re doing, then eventually, yeah, you’ll get into that school, the grade will follow, and while you are enjoying that experience or giving your all to that experience, your creativity goes up, your enjoyment of life goes up, your stress goes down, like there are so many wonderful byproducts to that, that you’re not stressed about whatever it is you’re striving for, but you are enjoying that process on the way, and you eventually do get that thing that you’re after, but it’s not the struggle anymore.  I’ll add that to our resources for the podcast, but it’s a great funny little TED talk about exactly that idea, that to kind of flip the script as they say, to make the experience the thing, the– it’s the process, not the product.

[00:23:34]

[Elizabeth]    Right, but the reality is, for a freshman, that’s not a mindset they have yet.

[Lillian]    No, it’s no it has to be taught, introduced, and really worked on.

[00:23:44]

[Elizabeth]    Because, you know, some of them have too much of an experience, and you have to slow that down a little bit, but they’re really not there yet.  And that’s the cool part of what we get to do, right, is just to encourage them to get there.  But, for some of our students, the ones who have learning differences, the ones who are struggling in that way in high school, we’re doing a much better job in our high school system, so they’re coming to college now.  And they’re not going– just going to small schools, they’re going to our public universities, and they’re coming in in larger numbers, and as a group, we’ve got to be ready for them and well, they’re already here, and we have to be changing the way that we approach executive functioning for these students, and assisting them in time management, and getting their work done, and provides spaces for them to feel like someone knows them, and holds them a little bit accountable for the work that they’re doing, and stand in the gap between high school and home, and being your own advocate, and being a college graduate.  There’s a big gap there, and as they grow, it’s a rewarding gap to fill, but there’s a lot of work to be done by all of us in higher ed.

[00:25:01]

[Lillian]    Absolutely, yeah and it’s a it’s a team of the professors, the instructors, the student support services, and the students all participating and also, I’d say, the administration that says we are going to designate space and time and funds to say this is an important thing.

[00:25:22]

[Elizabeth]   To say that we value them.

[Lillian]    To say that this is an important thing.  So, could you tell me maybe the more interesting things that you found out lately about Neurodiversity in your studies, and in kind of providing a multitude of ways to reach all of those students?  Things that you have found out most recently or in the last year or two?

[00:25:49]

[Elizabeth]    I think the role, you know, we started with the Universal Design for Learning approaches, but the role that executive functioning plays.  And what I mean by that is so many of our students or–especially our boys, I’m going to just pick on them for a minute because I’m a mom of two boys that went to college, and there are so many reminders that are given in high school, and even at home, if you had to be the one that yelled up the stairs to make sure somebody got to school on time, that was me, senior year, still doing it, and no wonder that becomes a very difficult thing for our students once they get here.  It’s not surprising that 9:00 a.m. becomes a challenge, or balancing a to-do list which comes naturally to most of us, but it’s a learned thing, and we have to learn how to do it, and they have to learn how to do it.  We started working with a new type of planner, I have an Amber Arnold on my staff that came out of the high school system, and we have purchases we’re like creating a new planner this year for all our students, and I’m working with them on how they’re going to handle some of the new things that are coming their way, and that the balance of their time.  And we’ve talked about time management for a long time, but it goes beyond just a time management issue.  It goes to a bigger functioning in the college realm, and being able to balance it.  And unfortunately, for many– for some students, when it doesn’t go well, they’re lacking the coping skills to ask for help, and they’re staying in their dorm room.  So, last year we dealt with quite a few students who were– who we had to go find quite frankly in their dorm room, because as a failure came their way, or a challenging grade came their way, their response was not to get up and go ask for help, and figure that out, their response was to stay in the room and isolate themselves.  And by the point when they wake up, for many of them that class is– it’s just too late to get an A or a B in that class, maybe we can barely get through it.  So we see a lot of anxiety with our students that we have to deal with.  I do think that it is very related to knowing that they’re not balancing school in the way that they need to, and that they need a place where they feel– or places on campus– where they feel known, and understood, and valued, and someone actually knows their name, and begins to call them by their name, there’s such power in that! And that somebody believes in me, beyond just the people in my life who have to believe in me, which is mom and dad, right? Someone who doesn’t even know me wants me to graduate, wants me to succeed, and it’s the combination of those things and how the power to meet students where they are, and assist them along the way, and not judge them, they can be successful. 

[00:29:03]

[Lillian]   It’s very relational learning, and empowerment, and just taking a student then taking it on themselves, that is knowing somebody is looking out for you, right, and learning that from someone as well, that’s– it’s also relational, and I know that’s part of my story, is, I learned so much from my teachers who I cared about, and who cared about me, so it’s a very human thing, I think, we often forget that, especially if we have a hundred, two hundred people in a class or something like that, it’s hard to create that human part, but luckily, we have some additions, we have study groups, we have lots of kind of smaller ways that even in a giant class, that human side, and that kind of smaller, caring group can help students.

[00:30:02]

[Elizabeth]    Well, we’ve been very fortunate that we got some more space this year during the summer, and we’ve been able to expand, so we really thank our administration for that support.  But that’s giving us the  opportunity to expand some of those kinds of services.  So, that combination in a learning center between course content support given in different ways, whether it’s digitally, study groups, tutoring sessions, and then the Student Success side, which is that academic study skills and working with them in the relational piece, as well.  The combination of those two things together, that’s when it really starts to be effective.  And so we can’t just think in terms of one side, just the tutoring side, we need those relationships on the other side as well, and that support of each individual student.  It’s a tall task, but it’s worth it, its definitely worth it.

[00:30:54]

[Lillian]    And how– about how many students do you serve with the tutoring center, or a percentage?

[Elizabeth]    We’ve been running between thirty and thirty two percent of our undergraduates, so that’s about six to seven thousand students a year.  Our visits are over the sixty thousand mark, and so that’s a lot.  But, we’ve also embedded some learning communities in our– in our Center, that are not residentially based, which means they don’t have to live in a dorm room together, or on a particular residence hall floor, and what we have found is three years ago we were– we had five percent of those learning communities were males,  and we decided that wasn’t helping our campus, because males have a much more difficult time with being retained to their sophomore year.  So, we went after the– after the guys that were coming in through freshman orientation this semester we’re 55% guys coming in, so it makes us a little nervous, because they tend to struggle a little bit, and we have to convince them this makes sense and support– we’ve already convinced their moms, but we have to convince them and work with them.  But, we’re excited about where we can take– we have 102 students that will be working and mentoring this fall, and we’re excited about where we can take them and how we can work with them.

[00:32:21]

[Lillian]    And about those academic Learning Communities, are those around a particular subject or a particular class that these –the students are involved in?

[Elizabeth]    Right.  They’re all universally freshmen coming in to their first semester, and what we will do is, we will have study groups embedded in that, we will be working with them, and forcing them into tutoring, initially you kind of have to push them, and then they begin to start to see the effects of tutoring and how it makes a difference.  They are in Freshman Seminar together and two other courses together so that we’re able as faculty to stop by and see them in their class, they love it when we stop by kinesiology and say hello.  That’s our exercise class, it’s great, but do you have them all together, so if you haven’t seen one, you can show up, and so there’s high accountability with it as well, and we find that that works extremely well for our incoming freshmen making that big transition in their freshman year, and it kind of keeps an eye on some of the processes and things that they’re doing, and how effective they are.  But that takes a lot of work, and when you think about a large freshman class, we wish that we could replicate that for every student, you know, to have a community where someone is really rooting for them and engaging.  So I think the next challenge for us is how do we then, as a campus, educate each other, but then seek to create things on the larger scale and still have the relationship piece, but be able to reach more and more students.  We’ll get there.

[00:34:02]

[Lillian]    So, those are almost like, yeah, they’re like family groups almost.  They’re in the same first-year seminar and see each other often in those other two classes, so they’ll notice if, you know, Rick hasn’t shown up for three classes or you know–

[00:34:15]

[Elizabeth]    They do!  They will out that person, yeah, they’ll say I saw him at breakfast, where is he now?

[Lillian]    Yes, he’s here, but he didn’t come to class.

[00:34:22]

[Elizabeth]     And I think the other thing is how we communicate with our students, not only personally but we’ve added in texting, and we do Group Me’s, which is a social media kind of application that we use for our tutors as well, and so we, you know, we would love to live in the world of everybody answers their email, but it’s not true, and–

[00:34:46]

[Lillian]    Yeah, students don’t live in that world

[Elizabeth]    Right, they don’t, they don’t.  So, we’ve decided do you keep only communicating one way, or do you go where they are?  And so we’ve decided, yeah, we go where they are and we work with them.  So if a certain percentage is going to respond to email, and others are going to respond to the text message, and then others are going to respond to a phone call, we have a call center we added last year to our Learning Center, where we’re calling freshmen throughout the semester at least 10 times checking in with them, and seeing how things are going, and making appointments directly for them, which has kind of worked out really well.  So it’s really identifying who our students are, and trying to meet the need as best we can, and not judge the need, but understand that they’re emerging adults, they’re not there yet, and that’s okay,they’ll get there.

[00:35:43]

[Lillian]    They will.  That’s great.  That comes along with that whole change of perspective, and really campus understanding, that there’s no normal, and that people– so that you’re not judging, that you’re outside of this kind of arbitrary normal, and therefore you get treated differently, but how can we as a higher education institution, say there isn’t a normal, there is diversity, there are so many ways that we learn and that we can teach, and that we can communicate, that that’s going to be our normal.  Our normal is all of these things, right, and bring everybody together on that. 

[00:36:30]

[Elizabeth]     Well, it’s– it’s absolutely having the conversations like today, and continuing those conversations, identifying champions on campuses, like Dr. Sarah Williams is absolutely one of those champions on the ECU campus.

[00:36:44]

[Lillian]    Yes, she is.

[Elizabeth]     And, continuing to have dialogue about it, listening to parents instead of not wanting to, and if we have a student who has issues, we will if the student’s okay with it and the parents okay, talk about the supports they had in the past, now how do we segue that?  Be willing to have conversations like that, and right now, you know, we’ve talked a few minutes ago– we have a book that we’re working on, and I think it’s really funny to say that, because I never would have imagined that being part of my journey.  But we’ve been able to pull authors from all over the country who are passionate about neurodiversity on their campuses, specific different kinds of topics like residence hall systems and how do you create welcoming environments there, what are you doing in libraries that can make a difference for neurodiverse learners.  Learning Centers, like myself, are tutoring.  All kinds of places all over campus, campus living, wellness, so we’ve been able to collect some authors who are going to, I think, do an amazing job this fall in showcasing their campuses, but also creating a handbook for higher ed that gets us all thinking and dialoguing a little bit more about whose responsibility is it, is it an academic advisor’s responsibility?  Absolutely, and we’ll have a chapter on that.  So, we’re looking at that and I’m excited about what happens when we really start to decide to make this campus a welcoming campus for everybody.  And there’s power in that.

[00:38:24]

[Lillian]     I’m really excited about that, there is– I’m so excited about the book that you are putting together that in writing, and it looks to be a game changer for, you know, how we think about who is running our campus and the idea of how everybody learns on that campus.  And welcoming all of those students, because it’s not going to get less diverse, it’s going to get more diverse.  Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth, for taking the time today to speak– to speak with me about neurodiverse learners, and all the things you’re doing at East Carolina University, and we look forward to when the book comes out, probably next year sometime?

[00:39:11]

[Elizabeth]    Yes!

[Lillian]    And, thank you so much for your time.

[00:39:14]

[Elizabeth]    Thank you for inviting me.

[Music]

[00:39:27]

[Lillian]   You can follow the Think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the ThinkUDL.org website.  The Think UDL podcast is made possible by College STAR, the STAR stands for supporting transition, access and retention in post-secondary settings, and the website provides free resources and instructional aids based on UDL principles.  If you’d like to know more, go to the CollegeSTAR.org website.  Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University, where, if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw an apple at you!  The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey Quartet, comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell, and Jose Cochez.  Our sound engineer is Tanner Jones, and I am your host, Lillian Nave, thank you for joining us on the Think UDL podcast.

[Music]