Each Learner Variability Project (LVP) Learner Model is a robust, research-driven, holistic representation of the major factors that form the foundation of learner diversity.
To create each of these research-based Learner Models, we follow a literature review methodology. This process is led by LVP research scientists trained in research methodology and with expertise in fields connected to learning (e.g., learning sciences, psychology, neuroscience). The process is overseen by an advisory board of leading national experts with diverse expertise, including the content area of each model, as well as the fields of cognitive and neuro-sciences, learning sciences, and social and emotional learning.
Below, we detail the full process of how LVP resources and services are grounded in current research.
Each Learner Model begins with the question, “According to research, what are the major factors that affect learning in this domain for the full diversity of learners?”
Factors affect learning in many different environments. For the PreK-Grade 12 models, our work focuses on identifying key Learner Factors that influence a student’s learning in the classroom; however, these factors tend to generalize beyond the classroom setting. Additionally, each model focuses on a single content area and set of grades (e.g., Reading PK-3, Math 7-9) with the goal that the full complement of models will provide supports for all school-aged learners. For the Adult Learner Model, we identified Learner Factors that impact learning in traditional instructional settings as well as workplace and self-directed learning, for a range of adult literacy skills.
Our process starts with identifying the Learner Factors most critical to the content area and grade range of the specific Model. We focus on learning sciences related to the whole child in the following areas: cognition, social and emotional learning, biographical background, and research specific to the content area. Learner Factors across these four pillars encompass core aspects of the learner that science has shown can affect learning.
The LVP team and advisory board meet to share initial thoughts on the development of the selected domain and recommendations for important research areas to consider. LVP researchers then explore possible factors based on advisory recommendations and seminal research reviews. From this discussion, they then distill a draft set of factors that impact student learning in a specific content area (e.g., literacy, math).
Focusing on these initial factors, the LVP researchers use research databases (e.g., Google Scholar, ERIC), as well as other resources (e.g., the Digital Promise Research Map), to find journals and studies that examine the empirical relationships between one or more Factors and student outcomes in the content area (e.g., the relationship between Working Memory and PK-3 Reading).
Refining the factors to include the most fundamental components of learning allows for the most complete and accurate depiction of learner diversity.
The LVP research team convenes bi-weekly to discuss the research and draft factors.
a. The LVP researchers update others on progress, and the team discusses overall issues that have been identified (e.g., terms for factors changing, new possible factors).
b. The LVP researchers present one or two factors for close discussion to test clarity of findings and terminology and also sync up these terms with the strategy research team (described below). 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 LVP researchers incorporate this feedback into their summaries.
The LVP team meets quarterly with the advisory board to discuss research and review factors:
a. The advisory board reviews the current factor map before the meeting.
b. The LVP researchers present an overview of the work including identifying those factors that are in the process of being confirmed for inclusion and those that are in question (see 1.b. above).
c. The advisory board suggests sources, refinement of factor definitions/content, and/or other interpretations.
d. The LVP researchers incorporate this feedback, while reading and reviewing new sources to update and refine the factors included in the Learner Model.
This process continues until the LVP team has examined each factor closely and the advisory board has approved each factor’s inclusion or removal in the model. The advisory board does a final review of the factors to ensure that essential content has been included in the summaries.
Through the iterative process detailed above, the LVP team finalizes the factors and their connections that current research supports as most critical to understanding the full diversity of learning for the model. These are presented in a Factor Map and discussed in the factor summaries on the Learner Variability Navigator.
The strategies research for each Learner Model is guided by the question, “According to research, what are strategies that improve or support the major factors affecting learning in this domain for the full diversity of learners?”
The LVP strategies research team works collaboratively alternating between Steps 2A and 2B below. This is an iterative process of continually growing and refining the strategy database.
The LVP strategy researchers use 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 instruction in the specific grade range to specific instructional strategies. The LVP strategy researchers first search 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”, “Adult”)
d. Time frame limit: Past 10 years of research; expand if results sparse.
The LVP strategy researchers prioritize research reviews, studies in classroom settings, research with many citations, and research published in high quality journals or on high quality practitioner sites.
In the event no results are found, the search is expanded to include:
a. Adjacent age groups
b. Different settings (e.g., after-school activities, controlled research settings)
c. Synonyms for terms (e.g., collaboration for cooperative learning)
Finally, the LVP strategy researchers read and review identified studies, documenting this set of findings for the weekly review with the full LVP strategy research team.
The LVP strategy researchers convene weekly to discuss findings and progress:
a. The LVP strategy researchers update the strategy research team on progress, and the team discusses overall issues the researchers have identified (e.g., identifying strategy families, inclusion of specific strategies).
b. The LVP strategy researchers present one or two strategies for close discussion to test clarity of findings, terminology, and impact.
c. The LVP strategy researchers incorporate this feedback into the strategy write-ups.
This process continues until the LVP strategy research team has examined closely each strategy.
The advisory board does a final overview of the strategy database to minimize potential gaps.
The LVP strategy researchers, using the same search process delineated in Step 2A, now revisit the research to track if and how each strategy supports or improves particular factors.
For each strategy, the LVP strategy researchers document two aspects. First, they document whether or not there is research (from at least one research and/or practitioner article) to show that a strategy supports or improves each factor in the Learner Model. In this step, the LVP strategy researchers also document when a connection cannot be found in the research and when researchers think a connection might exist, which helps identify potential research directions.
Next, the LVP researchers also distinguish in their documentation if the strategy supports a factor by mitigating a potential negative effect (e.g., a graphic organizer can support a learner who may not have gotten enough Sleep, likely by way of supporting Attention) or if the strategy improves a factor (e.g., setting goals can improve a learner’s Motivation).
After the factor reviews and supporting instructional strategies are established from the research, the LVP team translates the more readily accessible content for the Learner Model on the Learner Variability Navigator along with references and additional resourcesfor practitioners and product developers. This content is updated regularly as new research and connections are identified.