How can educators better understand student development?

How can educators better understand student development?

In the previous post I described how understanding student development was crucial to understanding pedagogical effectiveness, as opposed to assessing against a curriculum. In this post I intend to unpack how the IOI Learner Development Profile enables teachers to form a more appropriate understanding of student development in order to better measure pedagogical effectiveness.

The IOI Learner Development Profile is based on Nikolai Veresov’s General model of genetic research methodology, and described four aspects of a learner’s development:

  1. Characteristics: What do these learners do? What do they do well? What don’t they do well?
  2. Motivations: What are the reasons why these learners want to engage in learning activities?
  3. Sources: What do these learners rely on in order for their learning activities to be successful? These might people, or concrete or even digital objects.
  4. Results: What are the results of learning activities? What is produced?


By exploring these four aspects, educators are able to construct a powerful developmental profile of their students.

I will now draw on the previous posts discussion on how students develop as mathematicians to demonstrate how each of these four aspects apply to the development of early and competent mathematicians, and illustrating their similarities and differences.

Early Mathematicians


Early Mathematicians use concrete materials, enabling them to use precision when sorting, selecting and classifying as they complete puzzles and other maths based activities which would otherwise be beyond their capability. Their activities are almost always directed by an adult, and often linked to songs, rhymes, stories and games. Success is identified by their ability to engage in these activities and imitate their teacher. They begin to use basic mathematic concepts, such as ordering numbers.

Competent Mathematicians


Competent mathematicians have now moved from a motive of enjoyment and imitation to a motivation which is focussed on learning mathematics. The start using mathematical symbols, logic and reasoning to make decisions and solve increasingly complex problems and puzzles. Their use of mathematical notation is often supported with concrete examples, such as blocks or other counters. However they often lack the confidence and the ability to deduce for themselves whether their thinking is correct or incorrect.  As such, they still rely on teachers and others to model and explain mathematical concepts, and identify when their mathematical reasoning is lacking.


As for the previous post, the purpose of this activity is not to accurately describe the developmental stages of student mathematicians but rather illustrate how the IOI Learner Development Profile is used. Again, while this example is drawing on a narrow single subject view of development, the IOI Learner Development Profile can also be used to develop a more holistic description of student development. By constructing a clear picture of the desired developmental process of your students, and yes you may need multiple profiles, a teacher is much better placed to understand and measure how their chosen pedagogical approach is effective.

In future posts, we will explore how we compare the development profile with out learning and teaching model in order to understand, design and predict how pedagogical innovation improves pedagogical effectiveness.


You can download the paper version of the IOI Learner Development Profile, which is creative commons licensed

Teams at the IOI Weekend will use the IOI Learner Development Profile to understand and measure pedagogical effectiveness.

A free fast paced three-hour taster on Friday night will provide you with a shorter experience of the IOI Weekend. This is a free event and will be held at:

May 15th 6PM – 9PM at New Era Melbourne
Level 2 141 Capel Street North Melbourne VIC 3051

Over three hours we will give you a taste the IOI Process highlighting:

  • IOI Pedagogical Quality Framework,
  • IOI Learner Development Profile,
  • the Modern Learning Canvas,
  • how pedagogical quality, effectiveness and capacity can be measured,
  • and get you on your way to develop an Innovation Thesis.

Please RSVP to if you intended to join us to help us with catering (light finger food and drinks.)

Your Email (required)

Bringing a friend ?

2 thoughts on “How can educators better understand student development?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *