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If you have the time and opportunity to conduct a learner analysis, consider the following learner characteristics.

Condensed from Instructional Design, by Patricia L. Smith and Tillman J. Ragan.

(Note: The extent to which you focus on certain learner characteristics will depend on the nature of your instructional project.)


1. Cognitive characteristics

  • English as a second language
  • cognitive processing styles
  • learning strategies
  • general world knowledge
  • specific content knowledge


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2. Psychosocial characteristics

  • interests
  • motivation to learn
  • attitude toward subject matter
  • attitude toward learning
  • anxiety level
  • beliefs
  • socioeconomic background
  • racial/ethnic background, affiliations
  • job position, rank


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3. Physiological characteristics

  • sensory perception (visual, auditory, tactile, acuity)
  • general health
  • age


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