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Knowing the Learner

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On successful completion of this topic, you will be able to:
  • Recognise, value and utilise students' cultural orientation, prior learning, learning preferences/styles, and numeracy and literacy needs by providing a diverse range of activities and opportunities to encourage deep learning.

Who are my learners? How many of them will there be? Where are they going to be studying? What are their ages, their previous educational experience, their life and work experience? What kind of people are they? How do they prefer to learn? Why can some students confidently tackle the subjects they study and succeed? How do they do this?

You may feel that you know your 'typical student' quite well already, but have you really thought about their learning preferences and whether your course meets their needs? The needs of all 'stakeholders' have to be considered of course but the learners are at the centre of our considerations when we are designing for deep learning.

Develop a learner profile

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The diagram illustrates a possible Learner Profile for participants in the teaching qualification. Developing one can assist in designing an equitable and accessible learning environment that suits all learners in your group. (You can do this easily on a Powerpoint slide - remember to save as a jpeg.)

  • Use the following questions to help you to explore the characteristics and learning preferences of your group and create a profile for them.
  • What are some of the personal characteristics of the learners (age, gender, cultural background, profession, background, family life, etc.)?
  • What is the educational level of the learners?
  • Will there be any barriers to their learning such as literacy or numeracy issues, or lack of computer skills?
  • Why are they taking the course?
  • How will they use their knowledge?
  • What do they already know about the topic?
  • Are there any prerequisites?
  • How will they be studying this topic? (Face to face, distance, blended etc.)
  • Are they novice or expert learners?