Course Design & Development





Engagement: For purposeful, motivated learners,  stimulate interest and motivation for learning.

The third principle of UDL is Provide Multiple Means of Engagement. The affective network represents the “why” of learning. It identifies the importance of engaging and motivating learners.  Variations in culture, personal relevance, subjectivity and background knowledge are factors that can effect motivation and engagement. Learners have significant differences in what attracts their attention and engages their interest.

Guideline 7. Provide options for recruiting interest

Instructors understand that interested learners engage with the material being presented. What is harder to determine is how to pique the interest of students. The interest level from one learner to another can vary, and a learner’s interest level can change over time and in different circumstances.

Examples of Implementation

  • Provide Service Learning
  • Incorporate Problem-Based Learning.
  • Give students the chance to shape their own academic goals for the course.
  • Provide learning materials from a variety of sources. Different authors/content creators have different backgrounds and viewpoints that different students may connect with.
  • Encourage personal responses and self-evaluations from students.
  • Build the course with enough structure to provide guidance, but enough novelty to engage student attention.

Guideline 8. Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence

Many kinds of learning require sustained attention and effort to master the course material. Learners differ in their ability to manage these requirements for themselves. By providing options, an instructor can support different levels of motivation and self-regulation skills.

Examples of Implementation

  • Remind students of unit and course goals. For each assignment, identify which course or unit objectives the assignment will be targeting.
  • Encourage students to break large projects and goals into smaller projects and goals. Instructors can provide checkpoints as a way to encourage students to be making progress on big projects.
  • Provide learners with examples of excellent work. These examples can be past student works, rubrics or discussions that guide students toward investing the necessary time and effort for quality work.
  • Provide variety in the difficulty level of course activities, some activities should be easier while others should take significant effort.

Guideline 9. Provide options for self-regulation

Self-regulation is the ability “to strategically modulate one’s emotional reactions or states in order to be more effective at coping and engaging with the environment” (CAST, 2011, p. 32). Often these skills are not addressed explicitly within a class. Providing choices for learners with different aptitudes and prior experiences can allow learners to manage their own engagement in the course.

  • Model self-regulation in your communication. For example, “I plan to go to an event on Tuesday evening, so I have blocked out time this weekend to grade your papers,” or “Let me think about my response to that question, I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
  • Encourage students to develop relationships with instructors, coaches, or other mentors.
  • As part of the coursework, provide opportunities for self-refection. Journaling, goal setting, and providing opportunities to express emotions encourages learners to develop self-regulation.
  • Encourage students to maintain a growth mindset when they encounter difficult material.
  • If a student is noticeably struggling with emotional self-regulation, consider pointing them to Student Services resources that may provide the support they need.

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author. Retrieved from

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