Congratulations, you’ve just completed Module 2!
Giulia Forsythe offers us her visual summary representation of Module 2, The Engagement Principle.
Throughout Module 2, we reflected on why learner engagement is important for learning. As Nadia Richards said, “When people see themselves in their learning, they feel welcomed.” As George Dei stated, “Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.”
“Engagement” as a UDL principle also has a very important connection to anti-oppressive frameworks and decolonizing educational systems. An institution’s or instructor’s values are modelled through the pedagogical choices that are made, and thus, inform the engagement experience. As educators, we must ask ourselves if learners find meaning in the learning.
Learners ask themselves: How does this fit with my goals, values, and experiences? Is this good for me, bad for me, exciting, frightening, supportive. Is it threatening? Am I relaxed? Am I interested? Am I at risk?
The “Why” of Learning includes the affective networks. These networks determine the emotional and motivational significance of the world around us. These drive our actions by valuing and prioritizing what we do and learn; setting our “values” or priorities, influence experiences. All of this is located at the very centre of the brain and correspond to the UDL principle of Engagement.1:27As bell hooks (1994) said, “Critical reflection on my experience as a student in unexciting classrooms enabled me not only to imagine that the classroom could be exciting but that this excitement could coexist with and even stimulate serious intellectual and/or academic engagement.”
A strategy to recruit all learners equitably is to follow the Multiple Means of Engagement principle which provides options for recruiting interests, sustaining effort and persistence, and self-regulation. In recruiting interests, including learners equitably is providing sources of information that are meaningful and relevant to different racial, cultural, ethnic, and gender groups. This proactive approach is culturally sustaining because it empowers students by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes (Fovet, 2021). In order for “mastery-oriented learning to occur” learners must 2:25also be able to see their learning environment as a place which is safe for success and failure.
Ask yourself: How can I make it safer for learners to fail and share that experience with one another? What systemic framing of failure within the educational system needs to be discussed in the learning environment in order for learners to become comfortable with the discomfort of failure? Another way is to ensure the learning spaces foster collaboration and community.
This intrinsic motivation to learn from mistakes and independently find successes allows learners to support their learning by strategically modulating emotional reactions or states in order to be more effective at coping and engaging with the learning environment. Feeling connected and a valued member of the learning community is vital for students to feel engaged and interested. Ensuring each learners’ social identity is welcomed. The UDL framework can help lead educational institutions away from further marginalizing learners with disabilities, diverse experiences, and varying preferences of learning by offering an alternative to the pathologizing of learning variability.
In conclusion, if you design your course and frame your pedagogy to take into account learners’ variable lived experiences, you design a learning environment that is better for everyone. Ensure you reflect on the ways you allow more diverse voices and stories into your learning space, identify and acknowledge your social identity, and accept that authentic engagement is an ongoing process.
Summary of Module 2: Engagement - Runtime 4:09 min
Remember you can always take a look back at the Learn Mores and activities at your own pace.
If you are seeking to explore again the many ways you can build a sense of belonging, community, and social inclusion that fuels engagement, consider:
- re-exploring the welcoming tips shared by other educators at the beginning of the module and the “in practice” tips in the guidelines
- reflecting on ways to allow more diverse voices and stories into your learning space
- identifying and acknowledging your own social identity
- retrying the “Barriers to Learning” activity or the “Perspectives of Disability” activity
- exploring and commenting on others' community posts
- revisiting your reflection question responses to see if you would like to revise, edit, or expand on previous thoughts
You’ve had a chance to explore the Multiple Means of Engagement principle in this module and to post in the Collaborative Activity 3 and Collaborative Activity 4. Keep in mind that authentic engagement is an ongoing process – not just at the beginning of a course. You will undoubtedly discover more ways to apply this principle as you proceed.
See you in Module 3!
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