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Multiple Means of Engagement

Multiple means of engagement is one of the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Teachers and other educators can use multiple means of engagement to make their lessons accessible to a wide variety of learners.

Multiple Means of Engagement

Multiple means of engagement refers to the need to motivate learners in diverse ways. Teachers use this principle when they find more than one way to interest students in the concepts they are learning about.

For example, teachers at all levels, from elementary school to higher education, often require students to complete individualized assignments. For instance, when a class studies famous Canadians, each student may present a report about a different Canadian celebrity. Teachers may assign these topics randomly, such as by having each student choose their topic in a draw. However, this method of assigning topics may not motivate students. For instance, a student may randomly draw the name of an athlete who plays a sport the student has no interest in. Students who are less engaged with their topics may have less interest in writing a thorough report. As a result, they may learn far less than a student who happens to choose a topic that intrigues them.

Alternatively, teachers can show their class the complete list of topics and allow each student to select their own topic. For instance, a student who played or followed sports could research the athlete. Similarly, a student who enjoyed reading could research an author, while a student interested in science studied an inventor. Students who feel a connection to the material they are learning may be more likely to perceive school as valuable, and invest more time and energy in their studies.

Some assignments or subjects may offer less freedom of choice than others. However, each student should have the chance to learn in ways that interest them.

More Ways to Motivate Students

Some other ways educators can motivate their students are:

  • Creating a mixture of individual and group assignments
  • Listing learning outcomes and key terms, so that learners can track their own progress
  • Offering choice in test questions
  • Accessible Field trips and job placements
  • Providing examples or anecdotes to illustrate course concepts or give them a human interest
  • Using examples that reflect diverse:
    • Racial or cultural backgrounds
    • Gender expressions
    • Abilities

When examples include people from diverse backgrounds, students with these backgrounds may relate more closely to those examples. For instance, if all scientific examples feature non-disabled people, students with disabilities may believe that only non-disabled people have careers involving science, such as doctors or astronomers. As a result, students may lose interest in pursuing the subjects leading to these career paths. In contrast, examples including people with disabilities show students with those disabilities that those careers are accessible. Moreover, non-disabled classmates also learn that a student with a disability can succeed in science, and grow up to have a fulfilling career. Therefore, diverse examples not only motivate students, but they also increase awareness of the capability of people with disabilities. This awareness may reduce discrimination.

Multiple means of engagement give students the opportunity to learn in ways that intrigue them and encourage them to learn more.