Context & Learner Analysis

Context has a complex and powerful influence upon successful performance-based learning.  Contextualizing instruction makes abstract concepts more concrete, promotes understanding and retention.   (Tessmer & Richey, 1997)

Why use Contextualized Teaching and Learning?

  • Makes learning relevant
  • Engages and motivates hard-to-reach students
  • Increases learner confidence & enthusiasm
  • Enhances interest in long-term goals & education

Source: Contextualized Teaching and Learning | Galivan College

Situational Factors to Consider

Reflect on the questions below to help guide the (re)design of your course.

  1. Specific context of the teaching/learning situation:
    1. How many students are in the class?
    2. Is this an undergraduate course? Graduate course? Required or not?
    3. How long and frequent are the class meetings?
    4. How will the course be delivered? Live, online, lab, field? Blend, flexible?
    5. What physical elements of the learning environment will affect the class?
  2. General context of the learning situation:
    1. What learning expectations are placed on this course or curriculum by: the university? Department? Profession? Society?
  3. Nature of the subject:
    1. Is the subject primarily theoretical, practical or a combination of both?
    2. Are there important changes or controversies occurring within the field?
    3. Does your course relate to other courses in the dept? at UBCO?
  4. Characteristics of the Learners:
    1. What is the life situation of the learners (working, family, professional goals)?
    2. What prior knowledge, experiences and initial feelings do students usually have about this subject?
    3. What are their learning goals, expectations?
    4. How will the diversity of your students impact how you teach? EDI (equity, diversity & inclusion)
  5. Characteristics of the Instructor: (Your principles will guide selection of content, strategies and assessment.)
    1. What beliefs and values do you have about teaching and learning?
    2. What is your attitude toward: the subject? students?
    3. What level of knowledge or familiarity do you have with this subject?
    4. What are your strengths in teaching?
    5. What is your teaching philosophy? grading philosophy?
    6. What are your goals and purposes in teaching this course?


Tessmer, M., & Richey, R. (1997). The Role of Context in Learning and Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(2), 85-115.