9.1 Introduction

The authenticity of students and diversity of learner identities determine the important goals that are set for teachers. Students differ in their social experiences, abilities, physical and emotional development and skills; they are also characterised by different internal and external motivational factors that encourage purposeful learning and adequate reaction to challenges. When a student receives support in overcoming challenges, opportunities are created to formulate individual goals and achieve learning success (Meyer et al., 2014). Goal-seeking students seek meaning and ask the ‘why’ of learning, such as the why of the learning content. These students are characterised by self-regulation and are able to clearly recognise how their learning activities meet their learning goals (Meyer et al., 2014).

According to Crimmin (2012), when learning objectives are directly correlated with essential real knowledge and skills, students become enthusiastic and motivated for personal and learning progress. Motivated students often associate teaching content with meaningful and acceptable practice and experience. Enthusiasm and interest are essential qualities of a motivated learner.

Skoglund et al. (2020) clearly reveal a link between students’ positive behaviour and attitudes towards targeted active learning. The goals set by the learners themselves become a decisive factor in their planned learning activities. The individual goals of the student usually depend on their interests and needs, as well as the meaning of the learning. Peel’s (2020) study reveals the potential of teachers combining targeted teaching with the targeted involvement of learners in daily learning activities. Student motivation deals with a student’s desire to actively participate in the learning process. Student motivation to learn is construed as a student tendency to find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile, and to try and get the intended academic benefits from them. Debarger et al. (2017) indicate that targeted experiential and practice-based curricula can help students become more involved in the learning process, whereas challenges in the pedagogical process can enhance their motivation and improve their performance. Meyer et al. (2014) indicate that a purposeful, motivated and self-directed learner possesses the following characteristics: they understand how to plan resources, maintain effort and resilience to achieve learning goals; they seek to formulate complex and creative learning goals that facilitate the learning process; they realise that not only the learning process but also their achievements and performance results are important; they monitor, analyse and regulate their emotional–psychological reactions, which can act as a barrier to successful learning and involvement into the learning process.

In Lithuanian educational practice, it is common for teachers to not sufficiently mediate and develop these skills in students. Lithuanian educational documents (Law on Education, 2011), including the National Education Strategy for 2013–2022 (2013) and the good school concept (2015) highlight the ideas of a ‘school for all’, as well as the need to take into account the individual needs of the student and to ensure the importance of learning assistance. Because improving student performance is a national priority, the National Progress Strategy ‘Lithuania 2030’ (2012) has the goal that by 2020, at least 50% of Lithuanian 15-year-olds should achieve the third (out of six) reading, mathematical and science literacy level specified in OECD PISA (2015). This expected breakthrough did not happen—students remain below the 50% line, while the science literacy indicator has actually declined. Annual Report (2020) notes that individual needs must be recognised, here met by appropriate measures and monitored in every student. The Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania (2011) states that the purpose of learning achievement evaluation is to help a learner self-check their learning progress, ascertain their achievements and assist them in making decisions on further learning or activities. It is obvious that a purposeful and self-directed learner realising their needs in the learning process is still a relevant goal in the Lithuanian education system. Despite these needs being defined in legal documents, the reality shows that students are often demotivated by an inability to recognise the learning progress. Therefore, it is very important for students to be able to choose several strategies for learning and making progress, as well as for assessing their achievements.

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a teaching and learning strategy that helps develop student motivation and a purposeful learner. UDL ensures that teachers plan and implement the teaching/learning materials so that every student learns successfully and makes progress. Teachers applying this learning design do not wait for students to fail and stop making progress or begin to face difficulties in learning but instead prepare the teaching plan to be compliant with the students’ needs at the beginning of the learning process (Meyer et al., 2014). Taking into account the problems set out above, the UDL strategy was tested in Lithuanian practice. It was investigated how this strategy creates the preconditions for developing a motivated and purposeful learner, thus ensuring the practice of inclusive education.

9.2 Methodological Underpinnings of the Research

The data analysis presented in this chapter is the result of a larger study (see Chap. 3). The analysis is based on examples of cooperation and field notes made in the 2018/2019–2019/2020 school year at Vilnius Balsiai Basic School. The study involved sixth–seventh-grade students (including 12 girls and 15 boys) and teachers (two women). During the study, both students and teachers became acquainted with UDL for the first time and tested the principles of this strategy in practice. The context of the research is that the teachers were introduced to the UDL strategy for the first time at the beginning of the research (Cycle 1), and they applied it throughout the whole research period (cycles 2 and 3). The action research cycles are presented and discussed in Chap. 3. This chapter provides a summary of the action research, combining the analysis of the survey data from the lessons (natural classroom environment) and distance learning (in the COVID-19 pandemic situation). The following data collection methods were used: observation, student and teacher interviews and teacher and researcher reflections.

We set the goal of answering the following questions: (1) What qualities and abilities of a purposeful and motivated learning expert are developed by applying the UDL approach? (2) How do educational factors facilitate the development of a purposeful and motivated learner using the UDL approach? Answering these questions, we could analyse what phenomena, interactions, dialogues, expressions of behaviour and so forth allowed for identifying the different aspects of student and teacher activity that determined purposeful learning and motivation, as well as improving the qualities and skills of a motivated student. The analysis of the research data revealed significant findings, which are summarised in three groups and which are important in the development of a motivated and purposeful learner. Taking into account the principles of the UDL strategy, we defined such groups as interest, effort and persistence and self-regulation. The following section will discuss how interest, self-regulation, effort and persistence could be developed in the educational process from the perspective of the student and teacher.

9.3 What Does it Mean to Be an ‘Interested Learner’?

Interest encourages learners to ask questions and participate in learning activities. This provides students with positive energy, increasing their attention and involvement in the pedagogical process. Interest in learning activities and active participation in the pedagogical scenarios offered by teachers allow for achieving higher academic results and the learner to change. We identified that the following preconditions are significant for supporting the learner’s interest: concerning/questioning, actively participating, investigating, making choices and working independently.

The characteristics of strongly motivated learners are associated with a concerning and questioning learner. The synthesis and interpretation of the observation data of the learners’ engagement provided a clearer understanding of the students’ abilities as purposeful and motivated learners. When learners ask questions, they become involved in meaningful learning. Learners who are asking questions will also have enhanced learning potential. During the study, the learners demonstrated their need to ask questions. In some cases, the learners’ questions revealed their desire to learn more deeply and learn more about the topic.

A remote Lithuanian language and literature lesson is taking place (COVID-19 epidemic situation). Kotryna presents a topic about the partisan movement in Lithuania. After the presentation, Liutauras asks, ‘I have a question—is there anything new that you have learned?’ Kotryna replies, ‘I have learned that so many people died—about twenty thousand’. The teacher is joining the conversation, ‘Don’t you see the positive consequences of the partisan movement?’ Kotryna, ‘They prevented the Soviet army from advancing’. (Observation, 7 May 2020)

The teacher motivates the students with her questions, inviting them to get involved and discuss the topic. The students’ motivation and interest were enhanced by learning through participation in discussions, as well as by providing questions to the teacher and each other. The aim of the learners’ questions was to understand the given content, to detail the objectives of the task, to find out the content of the activity, to find out the expediency of the chosen strategy, to explain the features of the task and so forth.

When learning to work and achieve goals together, an actively participating learner becomes an important source of personal change. In this way, new individual and group experiences can constructed, personal knowledge created and individual and social skills established through cooperation. When learners participate actively in classroom activities, they empower themselves in learning and interpersonal interactions. In the current study, active participation of the learners in the observed lessons not only revealed their engagement, but also motivated them to think critically.

In the English lesson, the teacher shows a slide with containers for food. She instructs the students to talk to a friend about what containers they might be and what could be stored in them. Students fill in the forms provided, in which they need to enter the correct information about the type of container in English. They provide a few words and an example. The students consult with each other and use the phone to search for the right words. They discuss in what kind of container soup can be stored. The students repeat the names of some of the containers together. The correct names of the containers are chosen during the discussion. (Observation, 5 December 2019)

The observed pedagogical process focused on both individual and group learning. To balance individual growth and success with responsibility towards the group, a pedagogical approach that focuses on collective rather than individual empowerment for learning activities is important. Collaborative learning reduces stress (both individual and group), which is also a prerequisite for motivated involvement in the learning process.

A student interested in learning is characterised by the ability to investigate the world around them and discover things that they find important. Students inevitably learn by exploring. Inquiry-based learning is fun and engaging and motivates learners to share ideas and discuss the findings and seek new ways to apply the existing information, while also giving students an opportunity to reinforce their interest through making decisions and working cooperatively with others.

A Lithuanian language and literature lesson is going on. The topic of the lesson: Analysis of the content of Lois Loery’s book The Sender. The students perform an analysis on the basis of the texts distributed and the work of previous lessons. The students need to find at least two issues that are relevant to today’s society... several examples need to be found from The Sender (researcher’s note: the characteristics of the main character) and current society. (Observation, 12 December 2019)

This situation shows how during the observed pedagogical process, active learning combined with inquiry was applied as a learning strategy. This is largely an experiential form of exploratory learning relevant to the development of a student’s expert skills. As students explore and develop a metacognitive understanding of their learning, they develop not only an understanding of the subject content, but also new skills and an understanding of themselves.

We identified that making well-grounded and conscious choices fosters learners’ metacognition and self-confidence. Choice making invites learners to engage more thoughtfully with the learning process. The possibility to have choices in how students learn and how they demonstrate their learning was a way to enhance the learners’ responsibility for their own learning.

Teacher Alma: I tried to present the material in more than two formats (written text, video with subtitles, recorded text), supplemented by the teacher’s explanation. This allowed different students to maintain their interest as at least one format of the learning material complied with their interests and preferences … The use of technology increased interest as it provided access to authentic material (BBC and CNN websites, webcasts, YouTube channel). The learning material became (COVID-19 epidemic situation) livelier and was not merely limited to the paper format (Padlet, Liveworksheets, educational websites with interactive tasks). The majority of the selected websites had the functions of converting a text to speech or recording the oral text, thus giving the students an opportunity to learn to pronounce correctly and helping those with knowledge gaps or speech disorders. (Teacher reflection, 8 April 2021)

There cannot be a universal learning strategy for each student. The ability to choose from a variety of teaching and learning methods and their combination helps maintain focus and interest, facilitates the memorisation of knowledge, influences learning motivation and improves the skills of the student expert.

Independent work and self-confidence develop the student into a motivated and individually experimenting learner. One of the positive aspects of independent learning is the learners’ ability to work on their own with confidence and minimal guidance. Autonomy in the learning process leads to greater opportunities to plan and manage their own learning. In this way, preconditions are created for the development of responsibility for independent choices.

Teacher Alma: An interesting observation was when... gifted girls said: ‘And it’s very good for us sometimes to sit down and do an exercise, just to fill in the word’ because they’re probably just tired of having to work in a group and make some product during each lesson.... says, ‘Sometimes we want to do the work alone; we don’t want to work in a group’... sometimes it can be redundant (researcher’s note: collaboration). (Teacher reflection, 26 March 2020)

The more independent the students are, the easier it is for them to set learning goals, make decisions, identify their learning needs, take responsibility for constructing and implementing their own learning, monitor their progress towards their own learning goals and self-assess the learning outcomes.

Adopting innovations and challenges fosters curiosity and maintains interest. Innovation is a challenge in and of itself. Innovation means change, and students seek change; they value new ideas and actions. The example below demonstrates how students are involved in activities using Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats.

The teacher distributes hats in six colours. According to the colour of the hats, the students express emotions or react in an assigned way to the work done by their peers. Red hats mean that the students in that group express their emotions evoked by the book review, those wearing green hats look for original thoughts in the review, white hats mean that students observe neutrality, black hats critique, yellow hats appreciate the work of colleagues, and blue hats summarise the activities of the whole class. (Observation, 5 November 2019)

For some learners, accepting innovation and challenges may be seen as a risk. Experiences in group communication, fear of failure, waiting for the assessment of unfinished homework, demonstration of inappropriate behaviour and so forth can be associated with risks in the educational process.

Teacher Goda: A very creative class. If you give them those opportunities, they open up a lot. I haven’t finished a course of folk songs yet, which was supposed to be very boring, yet it’s not very boring now, and it’s such a relaxation for me; they (researcher’s note: students) really open up... Steponas brought a stone, he wanted to sing alone... he sang the song ‘Stok ant akmenelio’ solo... he carried that stone, and the class rated it as the best... although it was not the best—the student sang alone! He was quiet, does not have very good singing abilities, but they (researcher’s note: students) (researcher’s note: assessed) very differently... and it is very valuable that they reveal those talents. (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

By accepting the innovations and challenges offered in the learning process, students go beyond the limits of personal comfort. The ability to establish and maintain a safe and adequate relationship with the environment and not to be afraid of environmental pressures is one of the characteristics of a purposeful and motivated learner.

9.4 Maintaining the Learner’s Interest

Interest is an essential motivational component for academic success; teachers’ attempts to foster interest are important, whereas the stimulation of interest facilitates a more engaged and motivated learner. The following preconditions of the educational process are significant for supporting a student’s interest: challenges selected by the learner, awards for participation, diversity of methods and tools for learning, applicability of knowledge and the participation of a learner in setting the learning goals.

One of the challenges for teachers is creating challenges for learners. The teacher is required to be creative and flexible enough to generate challenges and learning conditions that are acceptable to the learners.

Teacher Goda: The initiative of children (researcher’s note: applying UDL) strengthens as long as they are willing to participate; the process is ongoing. … Today, Kotryna (researcher’s note: the student does not have the qualities of a leader) introduced a folk song; it was a romance, all of them (researcher’s note: students) with scarves, long skirts, movements… arrangement…. and…. I suddenly see that she started … I suddenly see that the initiative in Kotryna’s hands—everything is still good … and she stands in the middle (researcher’s note: of the class). I think—if only they had the initiative … the joy of learning and initiative, even if not every day; it is impossible to achieve it every day. (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

In this case, the challenge is related to the purposeful use of the role, time, environment, experience and proper vocabulary. In completing the task, students must use basic knowledge and skills and relate them to newly presented information about folklore and traditions. Doing this evokes both students’ thoughts and feelings, encouraging them to delve deeper into the meaning of the phenomenon and understand their relationship to the phenomenon. The learner’s task is not only to learn the learning content, but also to become aware of the relationship between this content and their own experiences. This arouses interest and a desire to act.

Giving awards for effort is a significant factor in enhancing extrinsic motivation. The award applied by the teacher was identified during the observed lessons, which was manifested through a system of pluses for active participation and work in the lesson or public praise. The pluses allowed the learners to accumulate part of their cumulative marks.

Teacher Goda: ‘Sit down with your third hour friend and write three epithets’. The teacher assists her partner (researcher’s note: the teacher joined a learner who did not have one). The children are working. Gritė and Monika read what they have written. The teacher: ‘Pluses for both of you’. (Observation, 30 January 2020)

The observed lessons were dominated by a plus–minus system or verbal praise. Improving the classroom motivation system, it would be valuable to look for other alternatives that act as motivational tools to help students feel successful and receive support.

The diversity of methods and tools for learning is critical to the overall well-being of the class and academic success of students. During the researched lessons, a variety of teaching methods used in the pedagogical process created the preconditions for conveying teaching content in various ways. For instance, in one lesson on the Lithuanian language and literature, we identified the learning methods that kept the learners engaged and active in the lesson. The learning methods included the following: presentation of the group work (researcher’s note: a drawing, a poem); presentation of a video—a fragment of screening the book; text analysis; pair work; sentence matching; additional questions of the teacher for clarity; and a drawing of a composition about a perfect future society. The teacher was constantly involved with the students in the educational process, and she was modelling individual tasks and creatively encouraging them to learn.

Teacher Alma: I see what I have changed in myself... I used to think, ‘Oh, what are they going to create for me here, what kind of song; Oh, let the primary students create those songs, maybe the fifth-graders...’, but when you give them a chance... You do what you want and as you want—but you have to use such structures, keep to such a theme, you have to show what you have learned—then a song or footage seem all right... there are children... who have tried something unconventional, such as creating a video. Earlier, it usually ended up with a PowerPoint presentation or a poster. (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

The harmonisation of teaching methods has emerged as a great strategy not only to creatively organise the lesson process, but also to take into account students’ individual ways of obtaining and understanding information. The same method can perform the function of a teaching method in one pedagogical situation or become a constituent methodological part in another, that is, it can be an integral part of other methods.

The possibilities for knowledge applicability in the educational process are created through interactions and activities that encourage the application of one’s old knowledge and creation of new knowledge. In this case, learning becomes constructive and self-regulating. This provides an opportunity for students to construct knowledge, interpret it and solve practical problems.

During the English lesson, learners listen to a recording of a dialogue in a store. Learners note what is being said and what will be bought. The teacher asks who has heard and what will be bought. They examine the text that contains the answers to the task. The teacher asks additional questions from the recording.... When you go to the store, make a list of what you will buy using the words you have learned from the recording. You can get started now (researcher’s note: making a list). (Observation, 11 December 2019)

The teacher consolidated the learners’ knowledge by setting this task. The content of the lesson was approximated to an everyday situation: shopping. By discovering the practical uses of the acquired knowledge, the learners could better retain the information. Thus, learning became more motivated and purposeful.

Creating a safe space and safe relationships was one of the most important things ensuring the participation of the learner in setting the learning goals during the lessons. Strengthening the students’ motivation is influenced by the time allocated by the teacher to clarify the learning objectives. Then, students can see the meaning of learning, understand better why they have to participate in one activity or another and discover the added value of this activity. The teacher shares responsibility with the students for their learning and achievement.

Alma: The most striking change for me is that responsibilities are transferred, transferred to the student. In the past, the leader was the teacher, and you lead the whole parade. Now, you are trying to make it so that, under the leadership of that parade, they (researcher’s note: students) begin to lead themselves figuratively speaking. And they start to get used to it,... start thinking about ways they could do the same at home, for example: delve deeper if they haven’t understood anything, find ways to adjust their learning a little, that it’s not just the teacher, who assigns (researcher’s note: learning content, work, etc.)... this system (UDL) allows them to feel more responsible for themselves and recognise that the teacher is not solely in control (researcher’s note: of the process). (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

Teachers can design teaching strategies, tools and activities that best meet their intended learning goals. We identified that the conditions for group and individual goals were created by the teachers creatively organising lessons, alternating and coordinating educational activities, changing student seating and position and promoting cooperation and a good microclimate. It is important for the student to learn in a focused and result-oriented way while setting and achieving learning goals, which is a challenging learning task for the learner.

In the English lesson, the teacher asks, ‘What could the purpose of this lesson be?’ The children are silent. The teacher helps the students by saying that Nikita’s (researcher’s note: the student is unmotivated) goal could be to learn a few words and apply them in coherent sentences. ‘What is the purpose of others?’ The students do not respond. (Observation, 21 November 2019)

During the research, we noted that the students did not have enough skills to define their individual learning goals. In this situation, an important educational aspect is the regular reminders of the teacher about the formulation of goals and success in meeting these goals. It is important to note that formulating personal learning goals must become an everyday learning skill.

9.5 Developing Effort and Persistence

Learning is intensive and hard work, and it is a process that requires energy, concentration and purposeful planning. The perseverance of learners is important when they have to continue their work or act purposefully, as well as when it is necessary to participate in uninteresting or difficult activities. In this case, there is the chance of encountering difficulties and failures. Not every learner is successful in maintaining equal effort and activity in learning. Effort and persistence combine the following abilities of the student: not reacting to interferences, looking for alternatives, asking for support when needed and performing and overcoming difficult tasks.

Noise, different learning styles, focus on time, communication style, lesson organisation, its intensity, structure and so forth may become obstacles for a student in the pedagogical process. It is important for a motivated student to develop the ability to neither react nor respond adequately to such circumstances.

The children read a separate part of the given texts. Maikas reads and makes a mistake when accentuating; the teacher corrects, and Maikas starts reading slowly. There is silence in the classroom (researcher’s note: support from the class is felt because the student has difficulty reading). Music is playing somewhere in the school territory. It is heard in the classroom and distracts the students. It is the last lesson, yet the students remain focused. (Observation, 11 January 2020)

Another example includes the employment of a student’s potential in time management.

The teacher, Goda, asks, ‘Will we be able to listen to another person?’ One of the students replies, ‘Only 15 minutes are left’. (researcher’s note: there are some more tasks left.)

Pijus promises to read his work in three minutes. Pijus reads expressively and keeps looking at classmates. The class listen to him carefully. The class applause when he finishes reading. (Observation, 9 November 2019)

Appropriate response or nonresponse to certain stimuli is a matter of habit. In the quotes above, the limitation of time may be a distractor because it is shorter than for other students. Here, you can see the student’s ability to concentrate and ‘manage’ the learning situation.

Finding alternatives is the ability to react to and choose from the alternatives offered in the educational process. This is an important condition for the development of a motivated student. The opportunity of choice develops the student’s creativity and engagement in learning.

The students were given the task of providing information about Lithuanian freedom fighters. They could choose how to present the material: write a letter, an essay or a message. One student chose to submit an essay, and the majority of students made presentations.... Liutauras presents his work. There is a text and some photos. He remembers stories from his family. I have a short video.... Liutauras shows a video. (Observation, 7 May 2020)

The search for alternatives requires more time and energy from the learner, so the choice of alternatives is not always used; a simpler way to achieve the goal is chosen. The lack of choice of new learning and activity models can also be influenced by previous negative learning experiences when atypical and nonstandard choices have made the learner feel insecure.

The teacher recalls what she was discussing with the students in the previous lesson. She recalls that there were three ways to complete the homework assignment: (1) tell a story; (2) write a story; and (3) film a story. All students chose to write a story. In the observed educational process, students more often tended to apply the usual and tested ways of presenting their learning and performance. In developing the students’ motivation, their purposeful voluntary decision making for atypical learning and activity demonstration models is important. (Researcher reflection, 5 December 2019)

Requesting support when needed is an important precondition for the development of motivation. Not all circumstances in the learning process are conducive to achieving what has been planned. In the educational process, the student must face situations when the help of another person is needed. Therefore, a motivated and purposeful learner understands the need for help from others and should be able to ask for help, which is important in supporting the learning process and implementing the planned activities.

Remote English lesson (COVID-19 epidemic period). Maikas: ‘Oh, I can’t turn it on, my camera keeps turning off’. Maikas is reading what he has written with a lot of difficulty and numerous pauses, frequently mispronouncing. The teacher is listening. Maikas: What is ‘meduolis’ (researcher’s note: gingerbread) in English? The teacher tells him. The teacher asks Maikas in English what the end of his story is. Maikas does not say anything and keeps silent. He is silent for a long time. (researcher’s note: It is unclear whether he did not understand what the teacher was asking or disconnected.) Maikas joins again and says in Lithuanian, ‘My phone is discharged. I will tell you the end soon’. He scrabbles for a long time, sighs and finally starts reading. The teacher helps him by asking questions, and she asks questions in English. (Observation, 19 May 2020)

This episode demonstrates how the student–teacher interaction reveals a relationship based on trust: the student feels safe to make mistakes and ask questions, and the teacher is benevolent and helpful during the student’s performance. Student–student interactions also reveal benevolent and sincere support from the group to the student, who finds it more difficult to present his work.

In developing learning skills, motivated students purposefully invest their time and resources in completing the task and achieving goals. In the long run, this should become a constant habit, providing satisfaction with the productivity and completeness of one’s own work and self-confidence in their own decisions. The students are confident when they feel and realise that they will succeed in solving the tasks and achieving the goals they have set for themselves.

Teacher Alma: Steponas filmed himself once for a project on healthy food, reviewed it and said, ‘Oh, and I mispronounced that, and I said nonsense in that place’... he filmed himself four times before he liked the result. And when he told everyone that he had filmed it four times, he saw that the children were encouraged to improve their own work... it opened my eyes that they were already mature enough to decide for themselves how good that work was for them. (Teacher interview, 26 March 2020)

There is no single recipe for how to learn effectively and overcome difficult goals at first glance because this is influenced by the specificity of the knowledge to be learned, the experience and the emotional and physical well-being of the learner, as well as the diversity and specificity of learning activities.

There is a presentation given by Vaida. She says, ‘I wrote 1.5 sheets instead of 1.5 pages’. She has reviewed Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The teacher says, ‘Vaida wrote it like a ninth-grader’. The class declares that they want to hear the long text written by Vaida. She reads smoothly and expressively. Her review interests the whole class; everyone listens (even the students sitting at the back of the class), and the class is silent. When someone tries to talk, they are silenced by other students. When Vaida finishes reading, the class applauds. The red-hatted Timotiejus shouts loudly, ‘Bravo!’ (Observation, 14 November 2019)

By becoming a motivated and purposeful student, the student learns strategies for managing and allocating time, how to complete tasks, giving as much meaning as possible to memorable information and using a variety of analogies, metaphors, summaries, diagrams, images and so forth.

Teacher Goda: I see how Timotiejus still tries to overcome the most difficult grammatical tasks …, I think and thank God … he puts effort to think with friends … and I think—you go into such a difficult fight, and I realise that everything is still good … (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

In the presented episode, the student’s motivation was clearly strengthened; the effort was focused on learning activities. Facing failure can lead to the strengthening of inadequate emotions and behaviour, as well as passivity in the learning process. Conversely, positive emotions, good mood, happiness, satisfaction and other emotions appear if the result that meets the set goal is achieved, especially if the task is complex and the student devotes a lot of energy and time to its completion after numerous attempts.

9.6 Creating Preconditions for the Learner’s Effort and Persistence

Teachers play a significant role in helping purposeful and motivated learners to develop persistence; they can foster the learner’s specific skills, such as organisational strategies, time management and realistic goal setting. Monitoring the learner’s progress and fostering collaboration were observed in the teachers’ activity, here trying to determine the learner’s effort and persistence in the process of becoming motivated and purposeful.

Monitoring the learner’s progress is one of the most important goals of a teacher. The teacher helps students grow because they are sincere, accept their own feelings, acknowledge students and demonstrate support. The provision of personal recognition and favourability is followed, which helps favour the student even when they make a mistake or fail to perform the assigned tasks. Students need to experience that personal relationships with teachers and classmates are not affected by their answers to questions or the completion of tasks. It is also important for students to experience that their answers are taken seriously, regardless of whether the teacher thinks they are the best or not.

Alma: … it’s hard for me; it’s very hard for me, especially in this class because it has kids with limitations: two kids with SEN (special educational needs), six kids with high talents, and there are a few completely unmotivated. As the gap between what they know and should know grows, the motivation does not increase; they do not enjoy as much as they did in the fifth grade… sixth grade … they realise that they fail. In the seventh grade, the gap is already widening, and I am worried. (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

In the observed educational context, the efforts of the students and the chosen ways of working were praised, but not their minds or intelligence. Written comments were also applied, confirming what the student was doing correctly and focusing on improving the work. The obvious activities of the teachers were related to the identification of mistakes or gaps and in improving the motivation of the student to correct these mistakes.

Fostering collaboration creates preconditions for learners’ meaningful activities through a certain role and relationship with other members of the group. Models of cooperation were clearly recognisable: working in pairs, learning in threes, learning in a group, learning in pairs with a teacher, learning through roles and learning all together in a large group in the classroom.

Lithuanian language and literature lesson. Teacher Goda: ‘Antanas, have you found friends? Hasn’t Steponas found any? Who is free?’ Steponas: ‘I am free’. Teacher: ‘Let’s sit down with our first hour friend. I’ll be in a pair with you’. (Observation, 11 January 2019)

The focus, solidarity and success of a class as a group depend on the balance between achieving goals and maintaining good relationships with all group members. In the observed educational process, teachers were usually successful in ensuring the preconditions for group formation and maintaining the successful functioning of the class as a group.

Goda: Involving students at the beginning of a lesson or keeping students involved throughout the lesson was the most important part in motivating the students for learning. Raising interest at the beginning of the lesson through photos, videos, heuristics and practical ‘bonuses’ contributed to this a lot; yet frequent changes in lesson models, such as altering lessons based on acting and theatre methods, lessons involving outdoor work, various group work combinations and so forth were even more effective—the students managed to focus because they did not know what would happen next. (Teacher reflection, 7 April 20)

The benefit of collaborative learning methods is that it encourages the consideration of an individual’s emotional needs and feelings. It is important for the teacher to set a good example by both their own behaviour and sincere emotional relationship, as well as a willingness to collaborate. For the class to become a team and trusting group, the teacher must become a member of the team.

9.7 Supporting Self-directed Learning

The ability to manage reactions or states is an important aspect of self-directed learning and personal development. It involves the ability to manage external reactions or internal states by acting in the environment, as well as building and maintaining relationships with others. An individual by nature tends to observe and learn from the example of others and to form his or her own patterns of positive behaviour. There are situations in the pedagogical process where it is difficult for the learner to develop and maintain self-regulatory skills. Weak self-regulatory skills can affect a person’s low level of motivation. Learners who have extensive self-regulatory skills can optimise self-directed learning. They develop the abilities of self-evaluation, management of emotions, positive expectations, choosing how to learn, knowing their own strengths and weaknesses and can reflect on their own learning.

A learning environment in which students maintain safe and benevolent interactions allows them to share their individual views, experiences and advice. Feeling safe, students can challenge each other and express their opinions and assessments, including their own self-evaluations. Active participation connects students from similar social groups, thus creating the conditions for motivated learning.

The captain of the white hats comes in front of the class, sits down on a chair and reads the evaluations. Only some of them are based on arguments. … Black hats had not only to evaluate, but also to criticise. At first, Justė explains in great detail why such assessments are made, then only announces the assessment itself.... Green hats criticise by evaluating. Pijus: ‘He had to speak more expressively’. The student: ‘I would suggest more eye contact’. (Observation, 28 November 2019)

Joint activities and informal assessment of students’ activities in accordance with the principle ‘students assess students’ encourage involvement and active participation. In this activity, the evaluator’s ability to not only recognise the learning gaps of their classmate, but also express and substantiate their opinion is revealed. In this way, the student assessing the work of another student provides assessment from a personal perspective. In doing so, the student evaluates their achievements and recognises their weaknesses and strengths.

Positive expectations are related to the expression of students’ emotions during the pedagogical process. The passage below shows how the teacher incorporates students’ experiences and emotions into activities and creativity. This strengthens the level of motivation and involvement, as well as positive expectations. It can be seen that students enjoy learning when they can choose their own activities, when these activities are focused on their interests and when the activities are accompanied by creativity.

  • Teacher Goda: I suggest you imagine moving to the country where you have been or dream of being. Close your eyes, sit back comfortably, imagine a specific place, people you interact with, and what you are doing. The ways of travelling include your head and thoughts (Morta has her eyes closed; Maikas is laughing; Pijus leaves the meeting and then returns). Now, gradually, say goodbye to the place and people in your imagination, get out of your thoughts, and turn on the cameras. How did it work?

  • Pijus: I did it for a short time.

  • Arnas: I succeeded; I saw something.

  • Teacher Goda: Show where you were on the map, Steponas (researcher’s note: The student is not very good at showing).

  • Steponas: I went to Belgium to a park that I really enjoyed. I talked to my mom.

  • Teacher Goda: Did you like it?

  • Vaida: Yeah, I really liked it.

  • Teacher Goda: Liepa, and where have you been?

  • Morta: I was in Bulgaria, in the White Bay, I photographed the sea, and I talked to people.

  • Marija: I was in Australia: mountains, waterfall. It is a dream journey.

  • Timotiejus: It didn’t quite work out. I travelled to Portugal—my dream trip.

It is obvious that the teacher gives enough time for reflection, encouraging the students to dream and remember. It liberates the students’ creativity and fantasies. They feel safe and actively engaged in a play of memories coloured by emotions and authentic and emotional experiences.

The processes of intuition and insight sometimes help learners see things differently. Insight and intuition are often based on experience and emotions. Creative thinking and memories are employed to enrich the learning context and make it more personal.

Choosing how to learn strengthens students’ motivated learning and responsibility. We observed educational situations in which the teachers suggested several alternatives for learning activities, knowledge seeking and consolidation. This allowed the students to develop the skills needed to make the right choices for attaining their goals.

The teacher allows learners to choose: ‘Your homework: you can either continue the situations or you can choose another task (shows the task on the screen). The second task is more difficult. Choose the one you want. You will get points for the second task’. (Observation, 7 November 2019)

In this situation, the teacher gives a choice between more complex and easier homework. The students could choose to assess their abilities and the need to express their creativity and could get additional pluses. The wonderful benefit of choice is that as the work becomes more diverse, it is harder to be unmotivated and passive.

The task assigned: In five minutes, students have to write 200 words why the given text is a review. They can write where they want: on the bench, on the windowsill at the end of the classroom, in the corridor. Only four students remain at the tables. Kristupas stays alone at the first desk in the middle row. Some go out into the hallway, while others choose to work on the windowsill. (Observation, 28 November 2019)

The possibility of choosing how to study expands the limits of the student’s independence in the pedagogical process. A student who has chosen an activity independently is more responsible for the results of the activity, as well as being able to analyse their own learning process more deeply and individually.

Awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses and reflection on one’s own learning help achieve the learning goals. The current study revealed that the students differed greatly in their abilities and propensity for self-reflection. For some, these processes went more smoothly, and the necessary self-reflection skills developed more quickly. Others needed clear instructions and advice to try to do it successfully. It was possible to identify that individual learning goals helped the students engage in learning and become motivated, as well as helped develop their independence and responsibility while strengthening their motivation.

The teacher, Goda, asks how much time the students have spent on the Friendship Cake task. A student responds that several cakes have been drawn; this one selected. The student explains that the group members each drew a picture, then considered and decided together which cake to present. (Researcher reflection, 13 December 2019)

This situation demonstrates that the group of students made full use of their potential and sought the best outcome for the task. Strong qualities of the students were demonstrated. Questions for reflection were usually asked at the end of the lessons. Occasionally, the questions were asked orally and sometimes in writing. Below are some examples formulated from the students’ written reflections in response to the following questions: What did you succeed in during the lesson? What did you fail at? What was difficult? What helped you cope with the difficulties? What was interesting that happened during the lesson?

  • Sofija: The rules were easy; it was hard to spell some words, and friends helped me explain the spelling of the words. While learning, I used the textbook and a pen. I answered everything correctly on the board, but I did not learn the limbs. I did not do my homework. ….

  • Liutauras: I was curious to know what the coats of arms of the cities meant; my friends didn’t help because I was sitting alone. I asked the teacher to explain what the signs meant (researcher’s note: in the coats of arms); the textbook helped. I had no other means. It’s fun to be able to give an answer about some of the city’s coats of arms. The lesson was not tense anyway. (Students’ reflection, 27 May 2020).

The reflection on the generalisation of this lesson, entitled ‘Partisan Movement’, was initiated by the following question: What did you use to better understand what you were learning in this lesson and how? Why did this help you?

Saulius: I carefully read and followed the text of the lesson, watched the excerpt of the film and wrote down the essential things from the slides shown by the teacher. It helped me because I could take better notice and understand what I learned by writing down the information. I would see it in my notebook and remember it. (Student reflection, 20 May 2020)

This practice of student reflection, here encouraged and supported by the teachers, is more a ‘reflexive action’, where the students constantly check what they have learned and what they have failed at after studying the new materials. It may seem that this way of learning is sufficient for the student to learn consciously and for the learning outcomes to improve. Yet, this way of reflection is quite static because it works only on a linear principle: ‘I learned/I checked’. Although reflection takes place automatically, it makes sense to purposefully encourage and deepen it.

9.8 Strengthening Students’ Self-regulation

By organising the learning process, teachers can improve students’ ability to observe, regulate and control their behaviour, emotions and thinking. The following preconditions are significant for the development of a learner’s self-regulation: modelling individual goals for the learner considering their strengths; monitoring the learner’s cognitive, behavioural and emotional changes; and the actuation of the learner’s self-reflection.

Proper self-assessment allows one to successfully function in the social environment and to establish healthy and safe relationships with others. It is a qualitative component of cognitive and personal expression. During the research, it was possible to observe the efforts of the teachers to strengthen the students’ positive self-esteem and balance safe social relations in the group.

Teacher Alma helps Maikas repeat the essence of the task. She reminds him of the main words that have been said about the event: ‘The festival is going on... The event provides....’ The teacher writes in English on the board. She asks the students to take notes and explains to Maikas and Timotiejus (students with special educational needs) what the task is, what should be done and how. She waits for them to open their textbooks and explains the task. (Observation, 11 December 2019)

Goodwill and insight into learning needs, personal characteristics and the ways of doing things serve as preconditions for strengthening positive self-esteem. The observed educational context reveals the peculiarities of the teachers’ positive relationship: timbre of communication, benevolent repetition of tasks or questions, encouragement to correct unfinished or poorly done work before positive evaluation, efforts to balance group relationships and goodwill and so forth.

Modelling individual goals for the learner by considering their strengths works much like a precondition for motivation. Each participant in the educational process fulfils their expectations by setting specific learning goals and striving to achieve them. The observed lessons displayed instances of purposeful communication in developing the learner’s goals and analysing their strengths and weaknesses. The observed context of the lessons revealed several strategies of teacher activities in formulating the learning goals. The teachers provided them in writing (using a visual way of providing and receiving information), the goals were formulated verbally (using an oral way of providing and receiving information) and the goals were divided into smaller and very specific goals according to the students’ personal characteristics, abilities and learning needs. There were some situations in which the students helped each other formulate individual goals.

Teacher Alma: It seems to me that they … when the lesson starts from setting the goal, now they tell it to themselves according to their wishes and level of possibilities: ‘Maybe I will learn three words, I will understand... maybe I will be able to apply those phrases in a sentence or in a dialogue’... You can already understand from this that the children can assume responsibility for themselves, plan a little... and at the end of the lesson they can think about it again, analyse whether they have managed to achieve the set goal, they can state, ‘Oh, I used three words – I succeeded’. But when you ask the question ‘What you could have done to make it even better or more?’, they start making small methodological suggestions of their own: ‘Ah, it would have helped me if the main thoughts had been underlined’.... when they say such things, you can single out two or three things that would have helped them together. Then, in the next lesson, you try to do it and watch it work. This is what you learn by teaching, and you get advice from your children as to why you failed (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020).

Learning objectives were formulated for each lesson observed. In this way, the teachers created conditions for the development of skills to formulate the learning goals. This gradually became part of the classroom activities and a regular student practice at the beginning (formulating lesson goals) and end (analysing how they were achieved) of a lesson.

Monitoring the learners’ cognitive, behavioural and emotional changes allows for identifying how teacher values and attitudes influence changes in student behaviour and learning progress. How does the teacher ‘see’ the students’ situations? For the teacher, how important are the progress of their students and change in their thinking and values?

Teacher Alma: The best example for me is Maikas. After the holidays, Maikas came back rested; his work level was completely different... Now, his eyes are burning, and he wants to (study)... what was happening the last month before the holidays is difficult to say, you could see the child was physically exhausted... Now, he is recovered, he says what he wants, how he would have done; he is no longer lying on the desk.

Teacher Goda: There are such difficult topics in my course now... They have to be accounted for... it would be difficult for an adult... and as you think, now a teenager,... needs to take note of everything … I don’t know, you can lose your mind there, and you understand that teenager who says... it’s enough for me... I want to log out..., after a while they get involved again...and there will be topics that will be a challenge for all of us. (Teacher interview, 10 May 2020)

The example illustrates how the teachers empathetically reflected on the students’ situations. It reveals the teachers’ interest, concern and insights into the students’ emotional and physical health. Through their care, the teachers created a basis for an empathic educational relationship, which is a strong prerequisite for strengthening learners’ motivation and improving their learning.

The actuation of the learners’ self-reflection plays an important role in strengthening the learners’ motivation and self-regulation. In an effort to help learners reflect on their experiences and the learning process and to understand what they want to achieve in it, teachers can use a range of self-assessment strategies and tools. During the observed pedagogical process, various support questions were mostly used that helped the teachers strengthen the learners’ reflective skills. Educational strategies such as Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats and assigning the role of optimists and pessimists to purposeful reflection during and at the end of the learning process were also used in the educational process.

The online lesson of Lithuanian language and literature on the topic ‘Remembering the most important periods of defence of freedom’ (COVID-19 situation) is in progress. The students will report on the prepared work. The teacher presents the assessment criteria. Content, important facts, originality, humour, ability to communicate with classmates and correctness of language will be assessed. The text must be written in the correct language; it is important to speak correctly. Additional points are awarded if information from family or kinship experience is provided and if the students actively ask questions during the lesson. The students have to choose the roles of an ‘optimist’, ‘pessimist’ or ‘clerk’. ‘Optimists’ observe the positive things of the task; ‘pessimists’ look for negative things, whereas ‘clerks’ record the facts. (Observation, 04 April 2020)

The pedagogical process shows that the teachers coordinate assessment and reflection processes in the lesson by assigning roles and asking clarifying questions. Discussions in pairs or small groups occur, and the students’ presentations encourage the identification of their learning goals, which allow for ‘trying out’ their own attitudes and expectations. It also helps learners to share interpretations and personal attitudes.

The lessons of the Lithuanian language and literature and literature are in progress.

Teacher Goda: You have one minute to speak. Raise your hands. Which group is ready?

The captain of the white hats comes in front of the class, sits down on a chair and reads the grades. Some estimates are supported by arguments …

The yellow hats say, ‘Sofija gets 10 because her presentation was perfect’; ‘Liutauras was very frivolous’; ‘Pijus also 10’. (Observation, 28 January 2019)

Here, the teacher initiated discussions in pairs or small groups and encouraged the learners to talk reflectively about their learning goals and share them with others. Discussions were also used as a collaborative learning strategy. Awareness of both positive and negative experiences, naming and expressing feelings, successes and failures that had been experienced but not expressed enabled the students to control their reactions to learning barriers. We identified that the regular integration of reflection into the pedagogical process was an obvious part of the widespread pedagogical practice of the teachers.

9.9 Discussion and Conclusions

Searching for the answer to what qualities and abilities of a purposeful and motivated expert learner can be developed by applying the UDL approach and how educational factors facilitate the development of a purposeful and motivated expert learner by applying the UDL approach, the educational prerequisites for students’ becoming purposeful and motivated learners were identified. The learners demonstrated their interest, collaborated, investigated, were actively engaged and were included in the process of learning. These qualities are considered important by Macgowan and Wong (2017), who research the development of group work competences. While pursuing the research goals and after introducing the features of the UDL strategy into the usual process of education, a pedagogical interaction was created, where learners shared their experiences and recommendations; this enhanced their motivation and contributed to their becoming motivated and purposeful. According to Barrineau et al. (2009), motivated learners create challenges to learn from each other, hence planning, implementing and evaluating their learning achievements together. Macgowan and Wong (2017) and Zirkus and Morgan (2020) emphasise that collaborative learning is as valuable as individual progress; it increases self-confidence (Chen, 2020) and enhances personal potential (Pejuan & Antonijuan, 2019), and the teacher becomes a role model of appropriate respectful behaviour in the process (Apaydin & Seçkin, 2013). It is important to note that challenges enable a deeper understanding of the analysed phenomena and enhance the pupils’ relation with the environment (Davis & Sumara, 2002; Kaukko & Wilkinson, 2020), whereas the purposeful choice of learning and behaviour can strengthen motivation (Anderson, 2016). The learners’ persistence, desire to continue the started activities after encountering challenges and efficient targeted efforts are perceived as an important part of individual learning strategies that can be used by learners while pursuing individual learning goals (Saphier et al., 2008).

Evaluating the context of the observed lessons, the learners chose tested and usual ways of presenting the learning results. It should also be mentioned that some lessons were observed during the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to Ebner and Gegenfurtner (2019), in such a situation, the learners could have been less engaged in their learning. Setting learning goals and attainment is a complex learning assignment; therefore, a student must be ready to provide a motivated contribution and put in effort (Ng, 2020; Crimmin, 2012; Sullo, 2009). In the context of the research, the need for improvement of the teacher’s and learners’ construction of goals and their compatibility was identified. The research material of Huitt (2003) emphasises that students should independently choose their learning goals because then, they invest more effort, work more intensively and better retain and apply what they have learned. The research results published by King and Bunce (2020) substantiate the data of the conducted research that a positive attitude towards learning goals and interest in assignments can influence learning motivation, which strengthens students’ attention and maintains their academic achievements (Wong & Wong, 2019; Alexander, 2017). The educational process planned together by the teacher and students, which Wiliam (2011) refers to as co-creation, undoubtedly preconditions the successful transformation of learners into expert learners. In the current study, the purposeful efforts of the teachers to formulate goal-based teaching were observed, but learner goal setting remained an element of the UDL strategy that was not completely implemented.

During the present research, sufficiently enthusiastic learner behaviour and openness were identified when they participated in the dialogues with teachers and in the lesson scenarios suggested by the teachers, which encouraged learners to investigate, construct experiential knowledge and informally evaluate their classmates. Because evaluations are conducted according to the previously discussed success criteria, informal peer evaluations occur in the context of personal achievements and progress, that is, the level of the students’ own learning is also self-assessed (Wiliam, 2011). Every dialogue with pupils and their engagement in the learning process and evaluation is an indicator revealing an understanding of the knowledge and efficiency of the chosen teaching methods of a teacher (Kang & Keinonen, 2018; Black & Wiliam, 2009). Teaching methods predetermine the academic success of learners and their general well-being in the classroom (Silver et al., 2009). Moreover, informal verbal evaluation has a stronger influence on learners compared with written evaluation (Hattie, 2012; Whitney & Ackerman, 2020). In the current study, the openness of students and expression of their safety while asking for help from teachers and friends were analysed by observing the class as a system; however, a deeper analysis allowing for identifying the correlation of individual safety with the class/group microclimate was not conducted.

However, it is worth planning such research because Broom (2015) and Bartolucci and Batini (2020) state that in seeking to balance students’ individual growth and success with responsibility towards the group, there is a need for pedagogy to be oriented not towards collective but rather individual empowerment. Individual features and abilities to cope with such barriers were characteristic of the students in the current study. In the present research, episodes were noticed when students faced problems trying to keep their attention or finish the started assignments. Increased activity and inclination to make noise, impulsivity, contradicting, impolite behaviour and other actions were also noticed. Similar features of weakened self-regulation were distinguished by Hallahan et al. (2015), whereas Liman and Tepeli (2019) and Zhang et al. (2020) emphasise the particularly significant role of a teacher seeking to improve pupils’ skills to observe and control their own behaviour, emotions and thinking while pursuing learning success. Strong self-regulation is directly linked to the independent accumulation of knowledge, use of obtained experience and the self-assessment of and reflection on learning (Hall & Simeral, 2017).

When learners explore and develop a metacognitive understanding of their own learning, they not only develop understanding of the subject content, but also create new skills and self-understanding (Cook-Sather, 2009, 2016), as well as learning to behave by perceiving their experiences (Chapman & Mitchell, 2020). When academic knowledge is combined with practice and experience is reflected, it becomes more meaningful because it complies with learners’ interests (Bovill, 2020, Kressler & Kressler, 2020; Morley, 2008).

It is obvious that self-evaluation, management of emotions, knowing of one’s own strengths and weaknesses and reflecting on one’s own learning are important abilities for pupils’ becoming motivated learners, but the analysis of the reflection content and observation data show that these areas require improvement. Reflection as a phenomenon has been acknowledged in the culture of the Lithuanian education system, but it is not a frequent strategy for qualitative changes in teaching and learning throughout the pedagogical practice. Interest is an essential motivational element of academic success; therefore, in the current study, teachers’ attempts to evoke interest were justified and obvious. It should be noted that the teachers planned teaching strategies, tools and activities, which, according to them, met the set learning goals the best. This is also emphasised by Debarger et al. (2017). When introducing UDL (as an inclusive education strategy) into Lithuanian pedagogical practice, it would be useful to direct more attention to setting one’s own learning goals and have the challenges selected by the learner while giving awards for participation when striving for systematicity and periodicity in the classroom.

The current research allowed for identifying the data on teacher professionalism in the processes of monitoring the learners’ progress, fostering collaboration and supporting the learner when he or she asked a question. Timely reactions to the students’ interests, encouragement of the learners to identify the strong and weak sides of their own work and establishing the ways of their own improvement are the highest quality responses in the teacher–learner dialogue (Byman & Kansanen, 2008; Boekaerts & Cascallar, 2006). This enhances a learner’s feeling of self-esteem (Coffey & Warren, 2020; Russo et al., 2019), especially when the teacher contributes to the learner’s growth because the teacher is being sincere, open to their own feelings, accepts the learner and demonstrates unconditional agreement (Peel, 2020; Bingöl & Batik, 2019). In the current study, the observed teachers’ activities obviously revealed their regular and long-term efforts in confidence-based relations with their students, which supplemented the ‘portfolio’ of a motivated learner’s qualities and abilities with reflection skills and practice in a targeted way. It is noteworthy that the teachers strengthened their inclusive education practice skills by implementing UDL.