Smith and Ragan, “Analyzing the Learner”

What I found most immediately useful and orienting in this chapter were the “four major categories of learner characteristics”—“cognitive (general and specific), physiological, affective, and social” (72). I also found interesting (if a little surprising, I suppose), is the authors’ claim that “[s]pecific prior knowledge is generally the most important single learner characteristic to consider” (72). One of the things I am interested to learn more about is the notion (mentioned only briefly by the authors, almost as an aside) that “[a]n understanding of the stages of [learners’] moral development can be quite helpful to designers, particularly as they design for attitude objectives, design instructional management strategies, or design instruction in psychosocial content areas” (68).

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Rothwell and Kazanas, “Assessing Relevant Characteristics of Learners”

Here Rothwell and Kazanas “describe selecting learner characteristics for assessment, suggest methods of identifying appropriate learner characteristics, discuss ways of conducting learner assessment, and provide suggestions about developing learner profiles” (67). On the whole, I found this chapter a thought-provoking one—at the very least (for someone like me, with little training/understanding of this part of the process/field) an excellent starting-off-point for further investigation. I’m thinking of this in qualified terms because, for example, the authors’ consideration of “geographical location” seems as though it is in great need of issues related to online learning. Considerations of learning disabilities and/or learning differences are also in need of some updating or additional thought. Rothwell and Kazanas only broadly and briefly considers this category as “the physically disabled and those suffering from special learning problems” (80). They note that it is “wise to indicate reasonable accommodation that can be made” for these learners; but, more than wise, it’s the law—and has been (in some form or another) for over two decades now (80).