Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Suzanne Horn

Second Advisor

Sherri Restauri

Third Advisor

Austin Hitt


Increasing student diversity and the global emphasis on inclusive education necessitate a critical focus on teacher preparedness in implementing inclusive practices within classrooms. Teacher preparedness in inclusive practices is essential to ensure all students thrive in a truly inclusive educational environment. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) promotes equitable learning environments by empowering educators to address the diverse needs of their students. This framework is aligned with inclusive education legislation and provides multiple ways for learners to engage, understand information, and express their knowledge. UDL recognizes learner variability and supports student self-determination by offering choices along the learning journey, fostering greater ownership, engagement, and adaptability based on unique needs.

This study examines the self-reported knowledge and preparedness of teachers from India in implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in South Carolina classrooms. Understanding these influences, grounded in UDL's proactive approach to inclusive education and Vygotsky's emphasis on the sociocultural context of learning, is crucial for creating effective professional development programs that support teachers from India as they adapt their instructional strategies for success in diverse U.S. classrooms. The study investigates how factors such as U.S. teaching experience, education level, and inclusive education coursework influence UDL preparedness in these teachers.

The study adopted a quantitative research approach, utilizing a survey refined through a pilot study with local and international teachers. Participants included Indian-origin teachers teaching in South Carolina with diverse experiences. The data collection methods used cross-sectional surveys, snowball sampling, and a digital format to ensure accessibility. Descriptive statistics, multiple regression, and correlational analyses were employed to gain insights into teachers' preparedness levels. Findings indicate that while U.S. teaching experience initially boosts UDL preparedness, this growth may plateau over time. Teachers with master's degrees or higher consistently exhibited greater UDL knowledge. Specific areas, particularly supporting multilingual learners, necessitate targeted UDL training for all teachers, regardless of experience level.

The study identifies potential gaps in teachers' UDL preparedness and highlights the crucial role of supportive school environments with collaborative communities for ongoing professional development. Recommendations include comprehensive UDL professional development, prioritizing multilingual supports, collaborative UDL communities within schools, administrator training on UDL, and expanding UDL training in Indian pre-service teacher preparation programs. This study highlights a critical disconnect between South Carolina's commitment to inclusion and the lack of UDL training mandates for all teachers. The study's specific sample and reliance on self-reported data may limit the generalizability of findings and potentially introduce bias into the assessment of UDL preparedness.