1.3 UDL Principle 1: Multiple Means of Engagement


Do you sometimes wonder about how your teaching practices currently support your learners? You’re not starting this journey with an “empty suitcase,” correct?

For a quick evaluation of your own starting point, download the How Do You Teach? Checklist, adapted from Colorado State University and the ACCESS project.

To start, complete the first section of the checklist to consider the ways you currently create a learning environment where students have multiple opportunities for engagement.

What does Multiple Means of Engagement mean?

Multiple means of engagement refers to different opportunities for student involvement (e.g., interactive activities, group discussions, online discussion boards). This principle reflects the idea that students have different motivations to engage in learning. For instance, some students are highly motivated by spontaneity and innovation while others may be uncomfortable in such learning environments. Some students may seek active social learning forums while others will retreat from such environments. Students who are more engaged in learning will be enthusiastic about applying their knowledge and will have a desire to learn more on their own. This principle also refers to offering varying levels of challenge, fostering community and collaboration, and supporting students in self-regulating their learning. In a learning environment that applies this principle, learners are challenged, excited, and motivated about what they are learning.

USask Lens:

“I love the interactive classes because that’s where I learn, like I don’t learn from writing. I need someone to teach me through it. I saw this classroom where everyone was just sitting in a circle and the prof sat there too, like all in a circle, all interacting with one another and that’s how they were being taught and for me that’s the best way for me to learn.”

“Discussion groups have really helped me, just going through different scenarios and articles and stuff like that and our prof is really good at directing the conversation when he could tell things are getting maybe off track, he kind of redirects it. And we had a lot of guest speakers, it gets boring to sometimes read those books but those practical stories are more interesting.”

-Student testimonials from the Wellness Strategy Report  highlight the impact on learning and engagement where multiple means of engagement are used in a course.

The following short video from the Southern Illinois Professional Development Center offers an overview of this UDL principle.

What might “Multiple Means of Engagement” look like in the classroom?

This table provides some examples for implementing multiple means of engagement in a postsecondary classroom. Categories are listed on the left, with ideas for implementation on the right.

Examples for implementing multiple means of engagement in a postsecondary classroom
Multiple Means of Engagement Putting it into Practice
Variety in teaching and learning activities
  • Provide a variety of active learning tasks that allow for participation, exploration, and experimentation
  • Incorporate discussions and small group activities into lecture classes
  • Embed engagement materials in lecture notes, such as sample exam questions or puzzles
  • Give multiple opportunities to learn through practice
  • Provide prompt and regular feedback, so students have sufficient time and support to reflect and improve
  • Allow students to hand in a “rough draft” of a paper or assignment
Interaction with others
  • Create a class climate in which student diversity is respected
  • Have students complete a pre-course survey in your LMS to understand your students and show interest in them.
  • Start the course by co-constructing a community agreement for learning (refer to it when necessary during the term)
  • Incorporate a variety of social learning opportunities, such as in-class and online discussions, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning
  • Make yourself available to students during office hours in flexible formats (e.g., face-to-face, telephone, and web conferencing; allow scheduled appointments or hold regular drop-in hours).
Use of technology
  • Use the online learning environment for small group work, discussions, links to news articles, practice exam questions, videos, student and educator profiles
  • Provide tools to support informal student interaction and study group arrangement (e.g., open discussion board forums)
  • Use online quizzes and other “knowledge check” interactive tools, not for marks but rather to provide immediate student feedback and formative feedback
Student choice of course content
  • Add an optional unit or topic after standard units have been addressed
  • Have student groups each research and present on a different topic
  • Provide a video on the topic as an alternative or supplement to reading a textbook chapter
  • Provide students with a list of questions to guide and focus their reading
Self-regulation and motivation
  • Guide students through goal setting activities at the outset of the course or assignment
  • Rubrics given at the beginning of an assignment to prompt self-assessment
  • Checklists for students to track their own progress
  • Challenge students with meaningful, authentic “real world” assignments
  • Create assessments that are outcomes- or competency-based and allow students to demonstrate the learning outcomes
  • Integrate experiential learning opportunities in your course


Web Resources

For more resources on how to provide multiple means of engagement, see the guidelines and checkpoints from CAST at: Principle: Provide multiple means of Engagement


Reflection: One Small Step

What UDL strategies would you like to try when designing (or redesigning) your next course? Use the following questions for considering this first principle in more depth as it might apply to your course (and remember – start with just one small step!).

Questions for Considering Multiple Means of Engagement:

  • How can you incorporate variety in your teaching approaches and student learning activities?
  • How might you incorporate student interaction and collaboration into your course?
  • How might technology be used to facilitate a diversity of engagement opportunities for learners?
  • What opportunities exist to incorporate student choice in learning content?
  • How can you encourage student self-regulation and personal coping skills?



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Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step Copyright © 2022 by Sara Dzaman; Derek Fenlon; Julie Maier; and Toni Marchione is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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