Blog Post

10 Learner Centred Design Questions

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019

Genuine and lasting transformation, or "Ah Hah!" moments that bring us new realizations, ideas, insights or change and subsequently evolve our world view, often occurs due to deliberately sought out experiences, singular events or chance encounters.

In data-saturated and trends-driven ecosystems, it becomes increasingly challenging for individuals to grow and evolve into whatever their definition or idea of their true selves is. Generally, I feel most empowered when an experience reinforces or evolves my sense of self and successfully drives towards the achievement of my aspired goals.

If Learner Centred Design is truly all about the learner, then our design approach should be aimed at providing a conclusive sense of fulfillment for that learner. I am passionate about Inquiry-based learning, but more so Inquiry-based Learning design that is born from research and evidence.

The 10 questions below to drive the design process and enable the delivery of learner centred design experiences were developed by readapting works from  Ellis, Wagner and Longmire's, 1999 “A set of Learner-Centered Principles for Training” which in turn were based on the of work  Barbara McCombs (1992)
  1. How can we design the learning experience to allow participants to discover and construct meaning from information and experiences based on their unique perceptions, thoughts, and feelings?
  2. Does the quantity and quality of information presented enable participants to create meaningful uses and applications of accrued knowledge?
  3. Does the content and learning activities align and complement the learner's current knowledge?
  4. Does the learning design take into account personality types and provide equivalent purpose-driven and outcomes-oriented learning activities, projects, case studies, exercises, discussions, scenarios, etc.?
  5. Does the learning design consider likely cognitive bias, insecurities, motivational or social blocks your target audience potentially has around learning as a function?
  6. Is the learning experience agile and challenging enough to elicit participants’ creativity and will the acquired knowledge and skills enable them to meet their individual aspirations and needs?
  7. Do design decisions take into account individual differences such as; socio-cultural and economic backgrounds or differences in intellectual and emotional development?
  8. Optimal learning occurs within environments that are friendly, socially interactive, and diverse. Does the design of the learning experience reflect this? What does friendly, socially interactive, and diverse look like or mean to your target audience and stakeholders?
  9. Is the learning experience designed to provide support and encouragement for learners, boost their self-esteem and sense of achievement?
  10. Is learning design derived from research, verifiable evidence and based upon real life learning personas? Does it reflect, reinforce, conflict or contrast with the beliefs of the target audience sufficiently to evolve, change, transform or elicit new insights of their world views?

Hope you found this helpful 😊.


Feel free to comment, 👍 or share.

Disclaimer: The opinions and points of view expressed in this article are those of Mervyn Kennedy-MacFoy. They are in no way representative of any previous, current, future, clients or employers he has been, is or will be affiliated with.

About the Author


An impassioned Instructional Design Specialist, I thrive on creating engaging content helping to discover and set off the learning triggers in the audiences, individuals and teams taking part in live trainings or exposed to my learning content. 

With a professional background spanning 20 years, today I have a sound understanding of HR learning management and employee performance needs. My efforts are principally focused on designing and implementing customized, relevant, engaging, project-based training programs clearly aligned with business goals. The latter is crucial in delivering impactful instructional design. Organisations reap the benefits enabling them to boost HR performance capabilities, increase employee work engagement, fuel efficiency and improve their overall business performance.


Is being able to empower and enable others through my work and assist in increasing their performance by building upon pre-existing skills/capabilities or developing new ones, in order to achieve success in their professional or personal endeavours. 


(TNA)Training needs analysis
Analytical, Strategic & Critical Thinking
Blended Learning
Documentation Development
Instructional Design
Learning & Development
Training & Development+Delivery


I am the proud and dedicated first-time Dad to a sweet little girl. At home I lose all my sense of professionalism, act goofy and can be found crawling around the house with my kids :-) 

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