3 Tell-Tale Signs You Need A Learner Analysis To Find The Most Effective Learning Methods

In modern eLearning, a learner analysis refers to the process of determining which skills a person has, which skills they need, and how to best teach those skills.

Experts agree that a learner analysis should be the first step of any educational endeavor as it helps align the elements of education to the individual needs, and in this chapter, we’ll go in-depth into what learner analyses are, the tell-tale signs of needing one, and how to carry them out effectively.

A learner analysis collects key data about what a person knows or doesn’t know, what their strengths are, and what their weaknesses are in order to determine how best to educate them. It helps teachers, both traditional and online, align the elements of education – such as curriculum, learning methodologies, and learning environment – to a learner’s individual strengths and needs. It is ultimately a valuable tool for teachers to use in the online classroom setting as it provides a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of learners, as well as their most favorable learning methods.

Additionally, companies also struggle with receiving feedback from learners on course completeness and quality, and this leads to poorer outcomes for both teachers and learners alike. The good news, however, is that there are a number of ways to streamline and automate the process of feedback, and these steps improve your ROI while increasing learner engagement.

In-Depth Assessments

The crux of a learner analysis is an in-depth assessment of a learner’s strengths, weaknesses, and any developmental delays. Some simple examples of this assessment might be asking online teachers to keep track of what learners are able to do well, how they respond to feedback, and how they independently complete their work. The goal is to gather enough information about the learner so that teachers can make improvements in their skill deployment and lead learners to become more independent learners.

The crux of a learner analysis is an in-depth assessment of a learner’s strengths, weaknesses, and any developmental delays.
A learner analysis measures the rate in which learners learn in a particular subject, the rate of accuracy that learners demonstrate on test material, their level of comprehension on all subjects, and their rate at which they are progressing academically with adaptive methods used to educate them. It is important to note that a learner analysis does not only measure intelligence, but rather, it provides data on how well a learner understands and interacts with educational material.

One example of where this data is immensely valuable is when dealing with gifted learners who may work at a pace that is different from other children in their grade or via eLearning. The data collected from a learner analysis will allow educators to provide appropriate instruction at an optimal pace for each individual’s needs. This helps make sure that no gifted learners are slowed down by colleagues who might be lagging behind, and it ensures that cognitively advanced learners do not fall victim to boredom as they move through the curriculum.

Learner Analysis Benefits

What are the benefits of a learner analysis, you ask? It has been proven that people who work at their own pace in learning are more likely to succeed academically than those who have been placed in groups based on age or grade level (in terms of the education sector) only. Using learner analysis can help identify when these issues arise so instructors can make adjustments accordingly with one-on-one instruction and differentiated instruction strategies.

Learner analyses are important because they help the educators create a plan to help the learner succeed.
This assessment is more than just a cognitive exercise. It includes an evaluation of the person’s innate talents and interests, not just their intelligence. These learner analyses are important because they help the educators create a plan to help the learner succeed. A classical learner analysis helps analyze a learner’s strengths and weaknesses in order to help them grow and succeed, and such a process can be at the level of an individual or a whole online academy.

An Example Learner Analysis

As a learner, you would be asked to take a series of tests to determine your learning style, intelligence level, and how you process information. The results of the learner analysis can have a big effect on your education.
In reality, learner analyses all differ in size, scope, and content. However, there are a few components shared by most learner analyses, which we’ll describe below:

Usually, a learner analysis will include some form of general intelligence test. This will be used to assess a learner’s natural aptitude for academic subjects such as math, science, and language arts.

Another common test involves determining how learners process information. This will help the trainer understand how they best learn by recognizing their preferred learning style (e.g., kinesthetic learner or visual learner).

A third component might be a reading comprehension assessment. This will reflect how effectively learners read materials and comprehend them on various levels (e.g., literal vs. inferential comprehension). The final assessment might be personality or interest assessments such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Strong Interest Inventory (SII). These assessments help identify strengths and weaknesses so that a learner’s natural inclinations can better be leveraged in the eLearning classroom environment. For instance, if someone scores highly on a reading comprehension test but scores poorly on the other assessments, this might mean that they are motivated by visual rather than textual stimuli. One person who is a strong reader may not necessarily have strong numeracy skills when tested with one particular type of cognitive assessment tool. To provide clarity, it’s therefore important to provide information about what each test measures and what each evaluation shows in terms of learners’ strengths and weaknesses.

3 Signs You May Need a Learner Analysis

1. Consistent, Long-Term Poor Performance

Short-term changes in a learner’s performance are normal and occur because of external pressures, commitments, and other life changes. However, when a previously well-performing learner begins exhibiting consistent, long-term poor performance, it implies that there is something deeper under the surface that may need examination. Such factors may include a mismatch between teaching style and learning style, systemic challenges related to intelligence or learning potential, and more.

2. Novel Cultural or Societal Changes

Significant cultural or societal changes can also trigger the need for a learner analysis. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, substantially changed how most people learn – eLearning quickly became a necessity due to office closures, but not every learner knew how to thrive in that environment. As a result, many learners did not achieve their prescribed learning outcomes. When large-scale changes like this occur, understanding a learner’s innate learning style and needs is a strong advantage in constructing a robust learning program that can bear any storm, societal or otherwise.

3. New Education Program Rollouts

If you’re implementing a new eLearning or education program, it’s often beneficial (and resource-advantageous) to perform an in-depth learner analysis right off the bat. This can help identify problems before they become problems, and provide learners with uninterrupted quality eLearning or traditional education in their preferred modality or learning style.

For an educator to properly administer and analyze learner analysis data effectively, there are certain things that should be kept in mind about what this process entails so it can be done properly, without any bias towards certain types of learners or any potential pitfalls that could arise from its implementation.

A learner analysis often serves as a formal investigation meant to understand the pros and cons of a learner’s or a company’s current state. And it can be performed on just about anybody. The analysis looks at things like the learner’s strengths, their desires, their interests, and their goals. The idea is that you want to get a sense of what the learner wants to do, how they are best suited to learn, and how they can be best supported in achieving their goals.

A learner analysis often serves as a formal investigation meant to understand the pros and cons of a learner’s or a company’s current state.
Ultimately, a learner analysis is an incredibly valuable process for employers or educators who are trying to understand a person’s needs and abilities as an individual. It differs from other forms of evaluation because it tends to focus on long-term goals rather than a single event or subject matter. A standardized test might tell you progress in the short term and how a learner ranks in comparison to others, but it doesn’t really provide much long-term reflection of the learner in question nor does it offer much in the way of personal insight.

With respect to how the process plays out, it begins with identifying what skills a learner is working on, followed by determining which skills are a strength and which could use some improvement. This should be done on an individual basis as well as for the whole school. If there are significant gaps in performance, then the entire company can implement interventions to help the learner reach their full potential.

There are many benefits associated with using learner analysis, but there are also some potential pitfalls depending on how it is administered and analyzed by educators. For example, learners may feel pressured if their performance is constantly being assessed or analyzed during courses or assessments as opposed to just receiving overall results based on course completion. In addition, there can be some practical problems like lack of materials, technology access, or accommodations for learners with disabilities – all things that would complicate the process of analyzing each individual learner’s performance based on subject matter progressions individually rather than just relying on default standardizations like course results alone.

Regardless, learner analyses are powerful tools to improve the quality of both eLearning and traditional training. It can help you identify a learner’s passions, what motivates them, and their preferred learning styles. And, perhaps most importantly, it can give you a sense for where they might succeed professionally or academically in the long-term, even if current testing metrics don’t necessarily reflect those outcomes.

Action Points

Start with an overview of your organization’s current training approach.
In some cases, poor learner performance may also be a result of misguided training practices within the company. Consider undertaking a full needs analysis to confirm this.
Our guide will show you the basics on how to do this here.

This is the seventh of 8 articles from the eBook eLearning 101 - How To Create The Perfect Curriculum For Your Company.

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This article was first published on eLearning Industry.