Problem-based Universal Design for Learning in Technical Communication and Rhetoric Instruction


  • Joseph Williams
  • Rich Rice
  • Ben Lauren
  • Steve Morrison
  • Kevin Van Winkle
  • Tim Elliott




It is crucial for Tech Comm instructors to address challenges of audience within the artificial environment of classroom instruction. Without a distinct and specific audience, course content often remains theoretical and abstract, and students struggle both to connect the unknown to the known, and to generate meaningful and effective communication. As a consequence, teachers often ask students to create "authentic" audiences in order to provide a tangible anchor for learning. Truly authentic audiences, however, are increasingly mixed, composed of constituents who have disparate interests and needs that must be addressed with multiple sophisticated appeals, arguments, and modalities. Theories of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be used to embrace these complexities meaningfully, strengthening students' opportunities for learning through scaffolded instruction and flexible course design.






PBL and networked learning