The pillars of commitment


Engagement in training is crucial to the success of any educational program. When we survey training professionals, we find that for 90% of them, the problem with distance learning is a lack of participant engagement (attention, focus, participation, dropping out). 

But what is participant engagement ? In this article, we look at the 5 pillars of training engagement : cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social and contextual.

Cognitive commitment

Cognitive engagement involves the learner’s mental participation in learning. Without it, learning is superficial.

What are the methods for increasing it ? 

  • Interactive teaching approaches: these interactive approaches are now well known to trainers. These methods do not stop at a simple poll or word cloud. In fact, they involve putting learners to work in an intense way : thinking together, manipulating learning content, asking questions. This is why specialists in interactive methods recommend the use of sub-groups throughout the course. For example Le site des activités et jeux de Thiagi
  • Real-time feedback: on training courses that are more top-down, real-time feedback helps to check understanding of messages and to mobilize learner commitment.

How do you measure it ?

  • How stimulating did you find the training content ?
  • Did you have the opportunity to ask questions or clarify doubts during the course ?

Emotional commitment

Emotional engagement is the link established between the learner, the content and the trainer.

Advances in neuroscience have revolutionized our understanding of the relationship between cognition and emotion, two key elements of engagement. Contrary to the widespread idea that these systems operate either independently or under the regulation of cognition over emotion, the most up-to-date studies suggest a close interdependence between the two. We refer you to the article by researcher Restrepo, G. (2014). Émotion, cognition et action motivée: une nouvelle vision de la neuroéducation. Neuroéducation, 3(1), 9- 17.

How can we increase this dimension of training commitment ?

  • Use storytelling: to do this, we advise our customers to organize an “appreciative interview” activity.
  • Take care of the environment: when we organize physical training courses, we often say that we need to go “to the green”, i.e. extract ourselves from our daily lives to be able to concentrate on the moment. In the same way, we offer a pleasant physical environment adapted to the experience. The Chateauform’ company has developed in this market.

Reference: « Le Storytelling en action ” by Patrick Amar and Xavier Cornette de Saint Cyr

How do you measure it ?

  • How connected did you feel to the course content?
  • How well did you concentrate?

Behavioral commitment

Behavioral engagement concerns the learner’s actions during the educational process, his or her active participation in the entire process.

Active participation increases the chances of success and anchoring simply because the learner has the opportunity to manipulate content and learning in a variety of ways and forms.

What are the methods for increasing it ? 

  • Sub-group work and gamification: we advise our customers to use Tiaghi’s games and activities or “Liberating structures”. These make very dynamic use of sub-group interaction, giving participants a real sense of involvement. Motivation is heightened by working with other participants.
  • Putting it into practice.

How do you measure it ?

  • Did you actively participate in the activities offered during the course ?
  • To what extent did gamification activities (badges, points, etc.) contribute to your engagement ?

Social commitment

Social engagement involves interaction and collaboration between learners.

Learning with others is highly motivating. On the one hand, man is a social animal who needs to connect with others. On the other hand, confrontation, competition and cooperation are all factors in the success of collaborative learning.

What are the methods for increasing it ? 

  • Collaborative learning in sub-groups: working in sub-groups by alternating group composition and size is very interesting during a virtual classroom session or a facilitation workshop. We really like workshop structures that involve learners working on the same subject, dynamically varying group sizes to encourage everyone to participate.
  • Learning communities.

Source(s) : From group work to collaborative learning. Analyzing the experience of business school students (Laurent Cosnefroy and Sonia Lefeuvre 2018)

How do you measure it ? 

  • Did you find it useful to collaborate with other participants ?
  • Did the group discussions improve your understanding of the content ?

Contextual commitment

Contextual engagement is about matching the learning context to the learner’s needs.

Learners can become discouraged if they don’t make a clear connection between learning and their needs in the context of their working lives.

What are the methods for increasing it ? 

  • Flexibility and accessibility of the environment.
  • Practical application in a professional context.

Source(s) : Philippe Carré, “L’apprentissage autodirigé : aspects psychologiques et pédagogiques” (2000).

How do you measure it ?

  • Was the training venue (or online platform) comfortable and suited to your needs ?
  • Did you find the examples or case studies relevant to your professional context ?


It’s becoming clear that assimilating and putting into practice these five fundamental pillars of commitment are not only crucial, but essential to the success of any training program.

Find out more about effective learning in our latest white paper on active learning.

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