Effective Strategies for Boosting Learner Engagement

There is one thing that separates successful training programmes from less effective ones: engagement. Learner engagement is how much attention your audience is giving to your learning content or programme. A lack of engagement affects not only the effectiveness of your training program but also the knowledge retention and productivity of your learners.

An engaging learning programme should make your learners burn with excitement. The most successful training programmes involve their learners at every phase of the training journey. More engaged learners mean highly motivated employees, which then results in better performance.  You want learners to engage with your content long enough to achieve your learning goals. Learner engagement is something that happens over time, as learners progress in their development and start unlocking their full potential.

Engagement can be broken into five learning stages:

1. Mentally present: Learners are mindfully focused and attentive to your subject matter.

2. Emotionally connected: They sincerely enjoy learning. Learners also feel personally aligned with your programme’s learning objectives.

3. Proactive and curious: Learners are taking the initiative to keep learning and engaging with training content.

4. Socially engaged: They are actively reinforcing their learning by connecting with others and sharing their knowledge.

5. Continuous learning: Learners are applying their knowledge and displaying desired behaviours. They have cultivated positive learning habits.

The best engagement strategy helps learners to establish a continuous learning pattern.

Here are some effective strategies for improving learner engagement.

Variety keeps things interesting: Humans are wired to crave variety and stimulation. Too much of the same thing can lead to boredom and frustration while new and varied experiences trigger the brain’s reward centres. Stimulate your learners with a training programme that’s packed with colour and variety. Steer away from boring, repetitive content. Stats show that modern learners are 75% more likely to watch videos than read documents and articles. As such, you should seek to mix up the content you throw at your learners, with a variety of videos, animations, and quizzes.

Personalisation: Generic content will lead to disengaged learners. Relevance is the top element that learners look for when it comes to training and development. And aside from the lessons and skills being applicable to real-life or the workplace, courses must also be more attuned to your learners’ specific contexts. To make your courses more relevant, you may want to steer clear of case studies on hypothetical situations that have no direct impact on your learners’ lives – content should be reflective of real-world situations. Using personalisation as one of your learner engagement strategies also involves addressing your learners’ contexts. This means that you need to customise courses based on your learners’ culture, language, and learning preferences as much as possible.


Micro-learning: There are more distractions vying for learners’ attention than ever before. Some research suggests that humans have an attention span of eight seconds! If you wish to engage your learners, then you need to provide them with short bursts of learning that will hold their attention. Micro-learning helps break learning material down to bite-sized chunks. This helps our brain to better absorb and process information. Studies show that micro-learning creates 17% more learning efficiency. Similarly, 94% of learning and development professionals prefer micro-learning over traditional approaches. Micro-learning enables a quicker production process which helps you to meet your training needs faster than with traditional approaches.


Set clear goals: Learners perform better when they know what exactly is expected of them. Setting and communicating clear learning goals is one of the key learner engagement strategies for capturing an audience’s attention right from the start. Invest some time in understanding the unique needs of each learner. In any e-learning course, there should be some overlap between the goals of a course and the personal goals of the learner. To really encourage learners to invest emotionally in the course from the get-go, consider opening the course with a personal goal-setting activity.

Justification: When it comes to learners being actively engaged, make sure the content clearly answers the question: “What’s in it for me?” Learners want to know why your e-learning course is relevant and right for them. Try outlining your strategic intent with a mission statement using the following formula: We provide (target audience) with (type of content) to help them achieve (goals). This helps your intended audience understand why and how this particular content is aligned with their real-world learning goals and support learner adoption.

Interactivity: When it comes to online learning, increasing learner engagement means including interactive elements in your courses. Deliver learning content that is creative and fun to interact with. There are different ways you can include interactivity into your learning modules. In asynchronous courses, you can use pop quizzes, videos, and drag-and-drop activities. Other approaches for synchronous courses (such as webinars) are polling, annotation tools, virtual breakout rooms, and shared whiteboards.

Gamification: Neuroscience reveals that games stimulate a rush of endorphins that make us feel happy and engaged. Gamification utilises the fun of games by bringing game elements into a learning environment. When learners enjoy training, they feel engaged and want to keep learning. Studies have shown that gamified training can improve learning retention by up to 90%. Game mechanics such as XP, Badges and player-vs-player battles can help to power up learner engagement levels. Employee engagement strategies are all the better with a healthy dose of gamification.


Convenience: Today, keeping learners engaged and motivated is a necessity. A quality LMS is one of the most important tools for creating courses that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Choose an LMS that provides access to learning material on mobile devices, both online and offline. Combining a quality LMS with just-in-time learning principles that focus on giving learners what they need, when they need it most, can be a powerful learner engagement strategy.

Reward engagement: Acknowledging the effort learners have invested in learning is key to boosting engagement. Start by understanding the things that motivate and inspire learners to keep bettering themselves, such as friendly competition, progress bars, or acknowledgement from the course instructor. Leaderboards, badges, and certificates are simple but effective ways to incorporate reward cycles into learning experiences. One learner engagement tactic is to offer a badge for each activity or piece of content completed. Certificates can be the most meaningful rewards when it comes to motivating adults to learn, because they not only want to build their skills, but also to have something to show for it. Consider how completion and achievement can be acknowledged through certificates.

We hope the above strategies help improve your learner uptake and yield great results!

Written by Rob Ewart


Stop Passing the Buck: Learner Engagement is L&D’S Responsibility

How To Motivate Learners: 7 Surefire Learner Engagement Strategies

What Exactly Is Learner Engagement? And How Do You Measure It?

5 Winning Strategies to Increase Learner Engagement


Learner Engagement Playbook



Skip to content