LPS Learner Model Development Process

Each LPS Learner Model is a robust, research-driven, holistic representation of the major learning factors at the foundation of learner diversity.

To create each of these research-based Learner Models, we follow a systematic literature review methodology. This process is led by an LPS researcher trained in research methodology and with expertise in fields connected to learning (e.g. learning science, psychology, neuroscience). The process is overseen by an advisory committee of leading national experts from the content area of each Model as well as the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience, learning sciences, and social emotional learning.

Below we detail the full process to ensure you that LPS resources and services are grounded in current research.

Step 1: Identify the Critical Learner Factors

Each Learner Model begins with the question, “According to research on learning, what are the major factors we should personalize to support the full diversity of learners?”

Factors affect learning in many different learning environments. We chose to identify key learner factors (“Learner Factors”) that influence a student’s learning in the classroom. Additionally, each Model focuses on a single content area and age group (e.g. Reading PK-3, Math PK-2) so that the full complement of Models best support all learners across all learning they will do in school.

Our process starts with identifying the Learner Factors most critical to the content area and age range of the specific Model. We focus on learning science research in the following areas: cognition, social-emotional learning, biographical background, and research specific to the content area. These four categories encompass all aspects of the learner that learning science has shown can affect a student’s learning in the classroom.

Step 1A: Identify Potential Learner Factors

The LPS team and advisory committee meet to share initial understandings of and recommendations for important research areas and possible Factors based on the advisory committee members’ research expertise. LPS researchers then distill from this discussion the initial Factors that impact student learning in the specific content area (e.g. reading, math).

Step 1B: Conduct Initial Literature Review

Focusing on these initial Factors, the LPS researcher uses the Digital Promise Research Map and other research databases (e.g. Google Scholar, ERIC) to find journals and studies that examine the relationship between one or more Factors and student outcomes in the content area (e.g. the relationship between working memory and K-3 Reading).

  1. The LPS researcher first searches for key terms. For example, search strings would include:
    a. Factor term (e.g. “Working Memory”)
    b. Content area term (e.g. “Literacy,” “Reading,” “Numeracy,” “Problem-Solving”)
    c. Age/Grade Range (e.g. “Pre-Kindergarten”, “Elementary”, “School-aged Youth”)
    d. Time frame limit: Past 5 years of research; expand if results sparse.
  2. The LPS researcher prioritizes research reviews, longitudinal studies, studies in classroom settings, research with many citations, and research published in high quality journals. The researcher also prioritizes studies focused on the dominant content area measures (e.g. fluency for reading; number sense for math).
  3. In the event no results are found, the search is expanded to include:
    a. Different age groups (would remove age/grade term, but rarely)
    b. Different settings (e.g. after-school activities, controlled research settings)
    c. Synonyms for terms (e.g. motivation as a synonym for temperament)
  4. In the event research is still lacking, the LPS researcher consults the LPS team to review findings and seek alternate directions or considerations.
  5. Finally, the LPS researcher reads and reviews identified studies and documents findings in a meta-analysis research summary for review with the LPS team.

Step 1C: Test and Refine Findings

Adding, changing, and ultimately refining Factors to the most fundamental components of learning allows for the most accurate depiction of learner diversity.

  1. The LPS team convenes bi-weekly to discuss the research and test Factors.
    a. The LPS researcher updates team on progress, and the team discusses overall issues the researcher has identified (e.g. terms for Factors changing, new possible Factors).
    b. The LPS researcher presents one or two Factors for close discussion to test clarity of findings and terminology. The team discusses whether proposed Factors should be retained for further development because multiple studies of the age group and content area of the Model confirm the Factor’s impact; should be further refined, based on current research; or need to be flagged as questionable if not enough research has been found to support the effects on the age group and/or content area of the Model.
    c. The LPS researcher incorporates this feedback into meta-analysis.
  2. The LPS team meets quarterly with the advisory committee to discuss research and test Factors:
    a. The advisory committee reviews the current meta-analysis before the meeting.
    b. The LPS researcher presents an overview of work done since the prior meeting, including noting Factors that are in the process of being confirmed for inclusion and those that are questionable (see 01.b. above).
    c. The advisory committee suggests sources, new/different names for Factors, and/or other interpretations.
    d. The LPS researcher incorporates this feedback into the meta-analysis, including reading and reviewing the new sources for confirmation of inclusion or removal of Factors from the Learner Model.
  3. In the later meetings with the LPS team and advisory committee, the LPS researcher also proposes Factors that research indicates impact the most learners (“Dominant” Factors) in the content area and age group of the Model. Through these discussions, Factors are confirmed or not as Dominant Factors.
  4. This process continues until the LPS team has examined closely each Factor and the advisory committee has approved each Factor’s inclusion or removal in the Model, the designation of Dominant Factors, and the final meta-analysis.
  5. The advisory committee does a final overview of the Factors and meta-analysis to minimize potential gaps.

Step 1D: Finalize Factors and Meta-Analysis

Through the iterative process detailed above, the LPS team finalizes the Factors, including the dominant factors, that current research supports as most critical to understanding the full diversity of learning for the content area and age group of the Model. These are presented in a Factor Framework and discussed in the meta-analysis.

Step 2: Identify Instructional Strategies to Support Each Factor

After the Factors are finalized, the LPS team starts on the process of identifying research-based instructional strategies to support each Factor.

Step 2A: Conduct Initial Literature Review

Using the Factors, the LPS strategy researcher uses research databases (e.g. Google Scholar, ERIC) and teacher pedagogy sites (e.g. Reading Rockets, What Works Clearinghouse) to find journals, studies, and practitioner articles that connect the Factors to specific instructional strategies.

  1. The LPS strategy researcher first searches for key terms. For example, search strings would include the following:
    a. Factor term (e.g. “Working Memory”)
    b. Content area term (e.g. “Literacy,” “Reading,” “Numeracy,” “Problem-Solving”)
    c. Age/Grade Range (e.g. “Pre-Kindergarten”, “Elementary”, “School-aged Youth”)
    d. Time frame limit: Past 5 years of research; expand if results sparse.
  2. The LPS strategy researcher prioritizes research reviews, studies in classroom settings, research with many citations, and research published in high quality journals or on high quality practitioner sites.
  3. In the event no results are found, the search is expanded to include:
    a. Different age groups (would remove age/grade term, but rarely)
    b. Different settings (e.g. after-school activities, controlled research settings)
    c. Synonyms for terms (e.g. motivation as a synonym for temperament)
  4. In the event research is still lacking, the LPS strategy researcher consults the LPS team to review findings and seek alternate directions or considerations.
  5. Finally, the LPS strategy researcher reads and reviews identified studies and documents findings in the strategy spreadsheet for review with the LPS team.

Step 2B: Test and Refine Findings

  1. The LPS team convenes bi-weekly to discuss research:
    a. The LPS strategy researcher updates team on progress, and the team discusses overall issues the researcher has identified (e.g. identifying strategy families, inclusion of specific strategies)
    b. The LPS strategy researcher presents one or two strategies for close discussion to test clarity of findings, terminology, and impact.
    c. The LPS strategy researcher incorporates this feedback into spreadsheet.
  2. The advisory committee reviews research sources and confirms validity and/or suggests additional sources.
  3. This process continues until the LPS team has examined closely each strategy and the advisory board has approved the references.
  4. The advisory committee does a final overview of the strategies to minimize potential gaps.

Step 3: Create Supporting Documents

Once the Factors, meta-analysis, and supporting instructional strategies have been established, the LPS team creates the supporting documents for the Learner Model that draw from this research foundation.

Learner Factor Summaries

The content for each Learner Factor Summary (LFS) is taken directly from the Factor Framework, meta-analysis, and strategies spreadsheet. These are designed to make the depth of research more readily accessible and digestible to users and provided on each Factor page on the LPS website (e.g. Home Literacy Environment).

Learner Personas

The LPS team consults an expert in the field to establish the example Factor pairs for each persona. The personas are then created from the content in the Framework, LFSs, and strategies spreadsheet and reviewed by an expert in the field before being finalized. These are the basis for our examples of how to use the LPS website (e.g. Jalen's Story).