12 May 2021

The affective network​ and engaging learners

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Supporting engagement in learning’

On this page:

Understand the affective network

Understand the affective network

How the UDL principle of Engagement supports the affective networks of the brain.

Implications of variability

Implications of variability

All learners demonstrate huge variability in their emotions, motivations, ability to persist, sustain effort and self-regulate.

It is critically important to intentionally design learning contexts that offer a range of useful supports and options so that each student can:

  • find a way into the learning experience
  • remain persistent in the face of challenge or failure
  • continue to build self-knowledge.

When we don't acknowledge and plan for variability, we can inadvertantly create barriers to learning and wellbeing for some students.

Source: CAST. Inc. 2018 (opens in a new tab/window)

Guidelines to help us plan for variability

Guidelines to help us plan for variability

From the neuroscience, we know that variability across the affective networks is predictable.

The three engagement guidelines help us plan for this variability.

Guidelines Purpose
Provide options for recruiting interest Spark excitement and curiosity for learning
Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence Tackle challenges with focus and determination
Provide options for self regulation Harness the power of emotions and motivation in learning

Source: Adapted from information from CAST (opens in a new tab/window)



It makes a difference for students when options and supports for engagement are in place.

It demonstrates we value students for who they are and what they bring.

Useful resources

Useful resources


Multiple means of engagement – Professional development resource

Publisher: The Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC)

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Provide multiple means of Engagement”:

Return to the guide “Universal Design for Learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Universal Design for Learning

Strategies for action: