Principle III. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

Stimulate interest and motivation for learning.


2 people with masks welding


In reality, there is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement increases the potential for learning. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while other are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers (National Center on Universal Design for Learning, (2012).

Here are some examples of how you can provide options to engage students in your classroom:

  • Provide lecture outlines online that students can annotate during class;
  • Break large assignments into components so that students can receive formative feedback to minimize or correct errors;
  • Provide frequent opportunities for assessment and feedback during a semester;
  • Where it is possible, use circular seating arrangements during discussion to allow students to see one another's faces; and
  • Offer choices of content and tools to provide diverse learners with the opportunity to engage in learning that is most meaningful and motivating to them.


We each learn most effectively when the challenge is enough to stretch us beyond our current level of functioning while still being within our capacity to learn effectively (Vygotsky, 1962). Offer multiple resources at a variety of levels to meet the unique needs of individual learners. For example:


Choice of Learning Context

Diverse learners have unique preferences and requirements regarding their learning context. Address this diversity by offering a variety of options:



Multiple Means of Engagement

Do you create a learning environment in which learners are challenged, excited and motivate about what they are learning?


UDL Guideline


You challenge students with meaningful assignments.


Create evaluations that are performance based and allow students to demonstrate the learning outcomes.  

You create a class climate in which student diversity is respected.


At the beginning of the semester, have students generate a list of "ground rules" for classroom conduct.

Be sure to post the agreed upon list on the course site and refer to when necessary in class.

You give prompt and instructive feedback on assignments.


Post grades as soon as possible on DC Connect

Allow students to hand in a "rough draft" of a paper or assignment. Have peers assess them based on a rubric.

Do you supplement lecture and reading assignments with visual aids (e.g., photographs, videos, diagrams, interactive simulations)?


Use advance organizers to help students read with intent and purpose.


Provide students with a list of questions to answer when reading.


Have students watch a video on the topic as well as reading the chapter.

Do you make yourself available to students during office hours in flexible formats (e.g., face-to-face, email, online chat, telephone)?



Post your office hours on DC Connect as well as on your office door.

Realize that many students cannot meet with you face-to-face for various reasons i.e. work, children, etc. Online meetings may be a solution.

Do you provide tasks that allow for active participation, exploration and experimentation?


Use a variety of active learning strategies to engage a variety of learners in your classroom.   See the C.A.F.E. website for examples or book an appointment with a faculty development consultant.

Do you invite personal response, evaluation and self-reflection to content and activities?


Use course evaluation surveys to help you determine aspects of your teaching that are working and which need to be changed


Affective Network

affective network of the brain

The affective network is required to interpret the world in terms of emotional impact and significance. They act as an emotional filter as we view everyday actions and make decisions based on emotion, motivation and biological drives. They assist in prioritizing and influence the decision to persist or shut down when things get difficult (Rose & Strangman, 2007).

Emotional difficulties may impede a student's ability to interpret text and concepts. Images or visual media can convey strong emotional messages and may assist the student to understand the information. Frequent feedback can provide incentive and motivation to improve. Graphic organizers and a well-structured course can assist with a feeling of being overwhelmed by the requirements.

Digital versions of materials can mean multiple ways of accessing and processing the information. Reading, viewing, or interactive activities can assist in learning. Students can choose how they are assessed whether it is from creating their own responses with a video or multimedia presentation, writing a paper, responding to direct questions, web sites, concept maps, posters, etc. A bank of online resources provided by the textbook manufacturer can provide the instructors with many opportunities to choose the level of challenge for the students.


Learning Objects

Learning Objects can be very beneficial to a variety of learners and increase engagement in course conent. Click on the links below to view two different types of Learning Objects created by the CAFE and Durham College Faculty.



National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2012). UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0. Available at:

Rose, D. and Strangman, N. (2007). Universal Design for Learning: meeting the challenge of individual learning differences through a neurocognitive perspective. Universal Access in the Information Society, 5:381-391. DOI 10.1007/s10209-006-0062-8

Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.