Know the facts

UDL Guidelines - Version 2.0: Research Evidence

Checkpoint 7.1: Optimize individual choice and autonomy

III. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

Recruiting Interest


The majority of the experimental studies are focused on the benefits of providing students with choices in the learning environment. Options in materials, tools, content, format, etc. all have been shown to increase student motivation and engagement. Other studies focus more specifically upon the importance of providing students with greater autonomy and control in order to develop a sense of ownership for their own learning. The scholarly reviews and opinion pieces provide more classroom-based perspectives on the advantages of embedding student choice and autonomy into curricula.

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Experimental and Quantitative Evidence:

Amabile, T. M., & Gitomer, J. (1984). Children's artistic creativity: Effects of choice in task materials. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 10(2), 209-215.

Assor, A., Kaplan, H., & Roth, G. (2002). Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: Autonomy-enhancing and suppressing teacher behaviours predicting students" engagement in schoolwork. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72(2), 261-278.

Bennett, D. E., Zentall, S. S., French, B. F., & Giorgetti-Borucki, K. (2006). The effects of computer-administered choice on students with and without characteristics of attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder. Behavioral Disorders, 31(2), 189-203.

Boggiano, A. K., Main, D. S., & Katz, P. A. (1988). Children's preference for challenge: The role of perceived competence and control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 134-141.

Catlin, K. S., Lewan, G. J., & Perignon, B. J. (1999). Increasing student engagement through goal-setting, cooperative learning & student choice. (Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/SkyLight).

Cavazos-Kottke, S. (2006). Five readers browsing: The reading interests of talented middle school boys. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50(2), 132-147.

Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(4), 715-730.

Cosden, M., Gannon, C., & Haring, T. G. (1995). Teacher-control versus student-control over choice of task and reinforcement for students with severe behavior problems. Journal of Behavioral Education, 5(1), 11-27.

Earley, P. C. (1985). Influence of information choice and task complexity upon goal acceptance, performance and personal goals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70(3), 481-491.

Flowerday, T., & Schraw, G. (2000). Teacher beliefs about instructional choice: A phenomenological study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(4), 634-645.

Flowerday, T., Schraw, G., & Stevens, J. (2004). The role of choice and interest in reader engagement. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(2), 93-114.

Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). Autonomy in children's learning: An experimental and individual difference investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(5), 890-898.

Guthrie, J. T., & Alao, S. (1997). Designing contexts to increase motivations for reading. Educational Psychologist, 32(2), 95-105.

Hannafin, R. D., & Sullivan, H. J. (1996). Preferences and learner control over amount of instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(1), 162-173.

Iyengar, S., & Lepper, M. (1999). Rethinking the value of choice: A cultural perspective on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995-1006.

Kern, L., Bambara, L., & Fogt, J. (2002). Class-wide curricular modification to improve the behavior of students with emotional or behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 27(4), 317-326.

Laurillard, D. (1987). Computers and the emancipation of students: Giving control to the learner. Instructional Science, 16(1), 3-18.

Mayer, R. E., Heiser, J., & Lonn, S. (2001). Cognitive constraints on multimedia learning: When presenting more material results in less understanding. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 187-198.

Passig, D., & Levin, H. (1999). Gender interest differences with multimedia learning interfaces. Computers in Human Behavior, 15(2), 173-183.

Passig, D., & Levin, H. (2000). Gender preferences for multimedia interfaces. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 16(1), 64-71.

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). The effects of choice on intrinsic motivation and related outcomes: A meta-analysis of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 270-300.

Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004). Enhancing students' engagement by increasing teachers' autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28(2), 147-169.

Riding, R. J., & Watts, M. (1997). The effect of cognitive style on the preferred format of instructional material. Educational Psychology, 17(1), 179-183.

Schraw, G., Flowerday, T., & Reisetter, M. F. (1998). The role of choice in reader engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(4), 705-714.

Shogren, K. A., Faggella-Luby, M. N., Bae, S.J., & Wehmeyer, M.L. (2004). The effect of choice-making as an intervention for problem behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(4), 228-237.

Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 571-581.

Skinner, E. A., Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., & Connell, J. P. (1998). Individual differences and the development of perceived control. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 63(2-3), i-vi, 1-220.

Stipek, D. J. (1996). Motivation and instruction. In D. C. Berliner, & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology. (pp. 85-113). New York: Simon & Schuster/Macmillan.

Stipek, D. J., & Weisz, J. R. (1981). Perceived personal control and academic achievement. Review of Educational Research, 51(1), 101-137.

Sweet, A. P., Guthrie, J. T., & Ng, M. M. (1998). Teacher perceptions and student reading motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 210-223.

Tafarodi, R. W., Mehranvar, S., Panton, R. L., & Milne, A. B. (2002). Putting oneself in the task: Choice, personalization, and confidence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(5), 648-658.

Tafarodi, R. W., Milne, A. B., & Smith, A. J. (1999). The confidence of choice: Evidence for an augmentation effect on self-perceived performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(11), 1405-1416.

Turner, J. C. (1995). The influence of classroom contexts on young children's motivation for literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(3), 410-441.

Unrau, N., & Schlackman, J. (2006). Motivation and its relationship with reading achievement in an urban middle school. Journal of Educational Research, 100(2), 81-101.

Wang, M. C., & Stiles, B. (1976). An investigation of children's concept of self-responsibility for their school learning. American Educational Research Journal, 13(3), 159-179.

Zuckerman, M., Porac, J., Lathin, D., & Deci, E. L. (1978). On the importance of self-determination for intrinsically-motivated behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4(3), 443-446.

Scholarly reviews and expert opinions:

Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.

Beane, J. A. (1990). Affect in the curriculum: Toward democracy, dignity, and diversity. New York: Teachers College Press.

Bergin, D. A. (1999). Influences on classroom interest. Educational Psychologist, 34(2), 87-98.

D'Amico, J. J. (1980). Reviving student participation. Educational Leadership, 38(1), 44-46.

Deci, E. L. (1991). The relation of interest to the motivation of behavior: A self-determination theory perspective. In A. Renninger, S. Hidi & A. Krapp (Eds.), The role of interest in learning and development (pp. 43-70). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(6), 1024-1037.

Deci, E. L., Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., & Ryan, R. M. (1991). Motivation and education: The self-determination perspective. Educational Psychologist, 26(3&4), 325-346.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Edwards, C. (1998). Partner, nurturer, and guide: The role of the teacher. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini & G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children. the reggio emilia approach - advanced reflections (2nd ed., pp. 179-198). London: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Guthrie, J. T., & Davis, M. H. (2003). Motivating struggling readers in middle school through an engagement model of classroom practice. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 19(1), 59.

Guthrie, J. T., & Cox, K. E. (2001). Classroom conditions for motivation and engagement in reading. Educational Psychology Review, 13(3), 283-302.

Guthrie, J. T., & McCann, A. D. (1997). Characteristics of classrooms that promote motivations and strategies for learning. In J. T. Guthrie, & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Reading engagement: Motivating readers through integrated instruction (pp. 128-148). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Guthrie, J. T., & Wigfield, A. (2000). Engagement and motivation in reading. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook for reading research (pp. 403-422). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kamii, C. (1991). Toward autonomy: The importance of critical thinking and choice making. School Psychology Review, 20(3), 382-388.

Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for children: Why and how to let students decide. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(1), 8-21.

Lee, I. (1998). Supporting greater autonomy in language learning. ELT Journal, 52(4), 282-290.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Researched-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Power, B. M., Wilhelm, J. D., & Chandler, K. (1997). Reading Stephen King: Issues of censorship, student choice, and popular literature. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Pressley, M., Yokoi, L., Rankin, J., Wharton-McDonald, R., & Mistretta, J. (1997). A survey of the instructional practices of grade 5 teachers nominated as effective in promoting literacy. Scientific Studies of Reading, 1(2), 145-160.

Reeve, J. (2006). Teachers as facilitators: What autonomy-supportive teachers do and why their students benefit. The Elementary School Journal, 106(3), 225-236.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Shevin, M., & Klein, N. K. (2004). The importance of choice-making skills for students with severe disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 29(3), 161-168.

Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 97-110.

Stipek, D. J., & Weisz, J. R. (1981). Perceived personal control and academic achievement. Review of Educational Research, 51(1), 101.

Suarez, D. (2007). When students choose the challenge. Educational Leadership, 65(3), 60-65.

Williams, S. (1998). An organizational model of choice: A theoretical analysis differentiating choice, personal control, and self-determination. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 124(4), 465-491.

Last Updated: 02/01/2011

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