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Universal Design for Learning
The Engagement Principle

Options for Self-Regulation

Educators can foster learners’ ability to strategically modulate emotional reactions or states in order to be more effective at coping and engaging with the learning environment.

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Facing AnxietyOpens in a new window (Runtime: 7:23 min).

Below are three “checkpoints” or strategies for the guideline of options for Self-Regulation guideline. If you click on each of these checkpoints, you will find examples of how these strategies can be implemented into practice.

Promote expectations and beliefs that optimize motivation

Foster positive beliefs that learners’ goals can be met by providing prompts, reminders, guides, rubrics, and checklists that focus on:

  • support activities that encourage self-reflection and identification of personal goals
  • increasing orientation when faced with distractions
  • providing access to coaches and mentors that model the process of setting personal goals that take into account both strengths and challenges
Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies

Provide differentiated models, scaffolds, and feedback for:

  • self-regulatory goals like managing stress through self-care and self-reflective exercises
  • seeking external emotional support
  • appropriately handling subject-specific judgements of “natural” aptitude (e.g., “I have not mastered quadratic equations, yet.” versus “I am not good at math”)
  • using real-life examples or simulations to demonstrate strategies for managing adverse situations
Develop self-reflection and assessment

For many learners, merely recognizing that they are making progress towards greater independence is highly motivating. Alternatively, one of the key factors in learners losing motivation is their inability to recognize their own progress. It is optimal if learners have multiple models and scaffolds of different self-assessment techniques so that they can identify, and choose, ones that fit for them:

  • Offer devices, aids, or charts to assist individuals in learning to collect, chart, and display data from their own skill building for the purpose of monitoring changes in those behaviours.
  • Use activities that include a means by which learners get feedback and have access to alternative scaffolds (e.g., charts, templates, feedback displays) that support understanding progress in a manner that is clear and timely.

For more strategies on providing feedback that help learners monitor their own progress, see Module 3.


In what ways can I support learners in setting goals to help themselves stay motivated? How am I providing strategies for learners to develop the skills necessary to deal with adversity? Am I facilitating a learning environment where learners can critically reflect on what and how they learn? If not, what opportunities can I create to support this?

Supporting Students with Mental Health Issues 6:51 min

In this video, college counsellor Zeba Luxmore shares tips and strategies for educators on how to support students managing stress or mental health concerns.

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HereOpens in a new window are great resources for promoting self-regulation skills such as stress management, self-care, and resilience.

Some people think of self-regulation as mind vs emotion. However, cognition and emotions are in constant interaction with each other. Various stimuli in our environment result in automatic reactions in our brain. A sense of equilibrium and the ability to exert voluntary control is the result of our thinking and feeling responses working together. Increased options for finding one's way back to equilibrium increases the ability to do it more often in the future.

There are several reasons why it is so difficult to manage stress. One is that we don’t recognize the signs of “stress-behavior” and confuse it with "weakness.”

Shanker, 2022
Next chapterCollaborative Activity 3: What Motivates You as a Learner?