From the Science of Learning and Development: 5 Factors that Impact Learning

The research from the science of learning and development was foundational in designing the Empower the Learner Framework that would guide the process for every learner to use. In our research, we came upon Transcend’s Designing for Learning Primer that spoke to “how does learning happen”. This publication was informed by a broad range of science-informed research that we explored further. The four key factors in learning that are included in Designing for Learning Primer includes identity, learner variability, motivation and cognition. We saw that there was a 5th factor that impacts learning. That is mindfulness,

Each month, we will dive deeper into the 5 Factors that Impact Learning. Here we will provide an overview of each factor and how it impacts learning.


  • Present Moment Awareness: We learn best when we are present.
  • Focus and Concentration: We learn best when we are able to maintain a single-pointed focus, a skill that is enhanced and improved with consistent mindfulness practice.
  • Self Regulation: We learn best when we are in a calm, open minded, growth mindset state.


  • Self Understanding: We learn best when we have a deep understanding of who we are and how we learn so that we can use this knowledge to support our learning.
  • Sense of Belonging:  We learn best when we feel connected to, as well as accepted by, the people and environment around us.
  • Navigating Identity: We learn best when positive beliefs associated with our identity are maximized and when negative beliefs are minimized or buffered against.

Learner Variability

  • Life Experiences: We learn best when our unique advantages and adversities are identified, acknowledged and understood, with systems for supportive response and action plans
    Developmental State: We learn best when our experiences align with where we are developmentally.
  • Learning Differences: We learn best when our unique learning needs are identified, and resources and skill development are aligned with those needs.


  • Value: We learn best when we find the content, outcomes, processes, and relationsips associated with learning important, relevant and meaningful.
  • Self Efficacy: We learn best when we believe in our ability to develop skills and achieve mastery of what we are learning.
  • Sense of Control: We learn best when we perceive that we have meaningful and sense of agency over our learning.


  • Focused Attention: We learn best when we direct our focus toward the content and experiences most relevant to learning.
  • Effective Practice: We learn best when we practice challenging-but-doable skills at frequent, focused intervals and across diverse contexts.
  • Metacognitive Thinking: We learn best when we are able to plan, observe, evaluate, and adjust our own learning processes.
  • High Quality Feedback: We learn best when we receive timely and targeted feedback to guide our improvement.
  • Meaningful Encoding: We learn best when new learning is experienced in memorable ways and is related to prior knowledge.


Jennings, P. A. (2012). Building an Evidence Base for Mindfulness in Educational Settings.

Transcend, Inc. Designing for Learning Primer, 2019.

Next featured post: “Identity: The On-Ramp to Learner Empowerment”


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