2 Create a Learning Profile

Now that you have thought about some of the demographics that exist in your classroom, let’s narrow this focus to a few well-framed profiles.

In this section, you will create three learner profiles. These people will be imaginary, but they will represent the real attributes of the students in your classroom. Learner profiles help us understand our courses more clearly from the perspective of our learners. We recommend that you review the demographics you selected using the Student Demographics Checklist from the previous chapter, and use those to create profiles that represent some of the diversity you selected.


Photo by McKinsey, via rawpixel

For example, when many of us think about a first-year student, we envision an 18-year old fresh out of high school. We know that in reality, only a small percentage of our students fit that demographic, and yet, many courses are designed based on that assumption.



By creating learner profiles, we are compelled to think about the kind of learners we actually see in our classrooms and incorporate more actively students who are marginalized, including mature students, working students, international students, and students with disabilities. When we use learner profiles, we set the stage to think using the principles of Universal Design for Learning (which we will discuss more in “Balance Your Course“).

This practice is informed by user personas in the field of instructional design and web design more generally. For more information, consider reviewing Usability’s description of user personas.

Sample Profiles

Here are some sample profiles to help get you started.

Characteristics                   Jade         Miriam
Short Description Jade is a real champion of the underdog and has chosen Child and Youth Studies because she really wants to make a difference in kid’s lives. Her mother is a social worker and she wants to follow in her footsteps. Her mother got her a good starter job that she is hoping will help give her the experience she needs to succeed after she graduates. However, work demands a lot of Jade’s time. She is at work at least 30 hours each week. Miriam has lived away from her family since she was 16. Her parents enrolled her in a Canadian high school and she stayed with family friends while her family stayed in Dubai. She is a very engaged learner but is very sensitive to critical feedback. She is very single-minded and wants to complete a professional designation in Accounting when she graduates. However, she struggles to manage her time.
Year and Program 2nd-year CHYS

4th-year Business

Demographic Information
  • 20-year-old queer woman
  • Works almost full time
  • Second generation university student
  • English is her language
  • Born in Canada
  • Third-generation Canadian
  • Partial scholarship contingent on her grades


  • 22-year-old woman
  • English is her fourth language
  • Born in Dubai
  • International student
  • Full-time student, no work commitments
  • Practices Islam and volunteers extensively with the Islamic Association


Reason for taking your course
  • needs to fulfill a writing requirement
  • likes the focus on popular culture
  • very interested in social justice issues, including women and gender studies
  • would like to receive a professional designation
  • really wants to get an A
  • this course fulfills a degree requirement
Motivations to succeed
  • need to maintain a certain GPA for scholarships
  • very clear vocational path



  • primarily grades focused
  • very determined
  • family pressure
Barriers/Challenges to success
  • heavy workload
  • perpetually tired
  • not a course associated with her major


  • diffuclty with organization
  • has issues with time management
  • family pressure



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