Learning Quotient an Introduction

 LQ Northampton University 2015 cropPresentation of LQ at a Northampton University TeachMeet

 Introduction to LQ

A Discussion about learning and Learning Quotient

Definition of LQ:

The ability to manage your learning environment to meet your learning needs.

It is easy to imagine the effects of a “toxic” learning environment, one where the learner is not able to access the learning or meet their learning needs. To begin with imagine what happens when the learner is excluded from the learning opportunities. Any explanation or instruction may be impossible to understand, as if spoken in a foreign language (“Blah, blah, blab bla”). Any activities look impossible to complete and actions impossible to mimic as if watching some strange dance being performed without music, rhythm, or purpose.

By describing the extreme, the most toxic of learning environments, my aim is to help you in recognising small elements within “every day” learning situations where learning is inhibited. The typical response of teachers in such situations is to explain, to see the lack of learning as a lack of understanding, to go over things again and perhaps vary the language or the example. I hope you can see how limited this approach is. The question is how can the teacher respond when the learner does not “get it”, they do not show or develop an understanding? Are we to assume the learner is incapable of learning? Do we look for a fault, a reason, to apportion blame for not learning? Do we, as teachers, give up? (A recent article looks at this issue through the concept of “Mindful Teaching”, see: http://wp.me/p2LphS-om )

It is my belief that learners soon recognise what they understand and what learning environments they can learn within.

Learners also instinctively relate the outcome to effort but in doing so they make value judgments about the learning.

The internal dialogue goes something like this “If the learning benefits me I will make an effort to learn.”

When I talk of benefiting the learner I am referring to meeting their needs[i] and briefly describe these as:

  • Belonging – to a group, of having an identity.
  • Freedom – to choose, to have options, and to make decisions.
  • Fun – to enjoy what is happening.
  • Power – to be heard or listened to. To be acknowledged in a way that provides recognition of emotions.

This graphic is part of my CPD courses and my book  ‘If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them. Building effective learning relationships shows how these needs influence the learner and acts as a reminder to the teacher to plan to meet those needs. 


I suggest that where a learner does not have some of these needs met for some of the time they will begin to withdraw from the learning environment, they limit their interaction and reduce their efforts. It’s easy for us to remember to include ways of meeting these in our teaching. The acronym PBCF is remembered using the mnemonic “Please Be Child Friendly”.

As a learner, and once this process of withdrawal  begins, we have to rationalise what is happening, especially if we are in a group and others “get it” and we don’t. This is where the work and theories of Carol Dweck [ii] come into play. I believe learners attribute learning to “aptitude” as a way of rationalising their inability to learn within the learning environment they find themselves in.

Learners begin to build their own mental map of learning which says “I cannot learn this.” The reason they give for this inability to learn is attributed to some something within them which they either have or do not have. They begin to see no reason for making any effort because no matter how hard they may try they will never “get it.” In their own learning map they have created they have laid down the foundations for future learning. Sadly for most it is limiting rather than exploratory. They have established boundaries and fences rather than a desire to see what is over the horizon. Hopefully you are asking, “What can be done about this situation?”

One response of educationalists has been to describe learners as having “learning styles” or describe their aptitude as “Multiple Intelligence”. Some have advocated  teaching students according to their styles. This approach has received both support and derision. I happen to believe there is something in it but see it as a way of describing the symptoms of the problem and not the root cause. To me a preferred style suggests a “learning need” outside of the four I have mentioned earlier and it also suggests an aspect of “LQ” the learner has already identified but without recognising it.

The lack of recognition of LQ is because no one has described or discussed it with the learner.

In my own work where I have explained to learners the concept of LQ and impact it has on their learning and even more importantly what they can do about it the results have been nothing short of remarkable.  Whilst I have no empirical evidence to support my concept of LQ other than decades of teacher, the very idea speaks to those I have worked with in a powerful way. It can bring adult learners to tears and it can give new energy to young learners because it explains to them and gives them the tools to do something about their learning mental maps and beliefs about what they can and cannot learn.

LQ round

As teachers or as those who manage learning environments we can do something about creating the conditions for LQ to flourish. I am not suggesting the multiple learning styles approach but instead introducing the concept of LQ to learners and then giving them the room within the learning environment we manage to exercise it.

I am advocating the creation of a learning environment where we empower the learner, where we pass the responsibility of learning back to them. Not in a way that leaves them “high and dry”, or in a “sink or swim” situation but in a way where they have the knowledge and understanding of LQ and are skilled in managing their own learning environment.

I hope you are now wondering how to create a learning environment which is LQ rich and supportive for your learners. Just what this looks and feels like I will explore next. You can download a leaflet introducing LQ here. About LQ 

Keep up to date

This is the first of many articles on the concept of LQ (Learning Intelligence) as proposed by ace-d.

You can view a summary Piktochart details the benefits of LQLQ Leaflet small

Feed Forward

I would be pleased to hear any comments or receive any questions you may have about LQ.

I am available for conferences, workshops, TeachMeets, plenaries, online training, course design, webinars, and consulting. Your organisation can reach me at kevin@ace-d.co.uk to discuss arrangements.

There are now many articles covering a range of aspects of LQ. Move forward through the blog to find out about links between LQ and resilience, empathy, designing, boredom and many more.

Research evidence: Education Endowment Foundation reports that Meta-cognition and self-regulation have a “high impact based on extensive evidence” http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/meta-cognitive-and-self-regulation-strategies/

[i] My book puts forward the narrative of LQ and PBCF within the context of the school challenges and environment. It is published by Critical Publishing and reviewed by UKEdChat here.

Please also see the work of William “Glasser Choice Theory in the Classroom” on which some of this work is based.

[ii] According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behaviour.


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About AcEd

"4c3d" (AcEd) is the abbreviation for Advocating Creativity in education, a company I set up to challenge how we think about and deliver education. The blog champions my concept of Learning intelligence, how we manage our learning environment to meet our learning needs as well as detailing those needs: Power Belonging, Choice and Fun - PBCF. Kevin Hewitson 2019

9 responses to “Learning Quotient an Introduction”

  1. Garreth Heidt says :


    This is interesting. I followed a link from a Mindshift post. I like the shift here to what the learner is/can do to manage his/her learning environment. I’m looking forward to reading more of your ideas on this.

    You’ve listed “learner needs” as these:

    Belonging – to a group, of having an identity.
    Freedom – to choose, to have options, and to make decisions.
    Fun – to enjoy what is happening.
    Power – to be heard or listened to. To be acknowledged in a way that provides recognition of emotions.

    Aren’t these, except for missing the “Survival” need, the needs Glasser identifies in his work on Choice Theory as detailed in, among others, his books, “The Quality School” and “The Quality School Teacher.”


    • 4c3d says :

      Hi Garreth
      In short – yes. I came across Glasser’s work late in my teaching career when I have had time to reflect on what works and does not work (32 years into it actually) and recognised the simplicity of his identification of needs in relation to my teaching experience. I have acknowledged his work in many of my writings and posts and it forms a component of the foundation work for LQ. What I found though was a need to put Choice Theory into a “working context” for teachers. For example “Power” gets a bad press in education, the idea of giving power to students is difficult for teachers who want to be the “sage” and not “guide”. It is better to think of the opposite, of being “powerless”, and word association exercises bring up words like “being heard, having a voice, being listened to” and these are more palatable in the learning environment prevalent in many classrooms. I left out survival for a similar reason. I have written an e-book, “Understanding Learning Needs” which challenges teachers to show how they plan and meet these needs in their teaching. I have also developed a training course where teachers get to map their teaching strategies and approaches against these needs. Both have been very effective in helping teachers improve the learning environment, build better relationships with learners and reduce conflict. There are over 20 posts on LQ here many of which explore it from both the teacher and learner perspective. The posts are part of my refining process in defining LQ so feedback and comments such as yours are very important to me. Many thanks for taking the time and enjoy the posts.


  2. sharrock67 says :

    I have additional info to help with your work:human agency or personal agency skills as they relate to social learning and self-efficacy. http://meagherlab.tamu.edu/M-Meagher/Health%20360/Psyc%20360%20articles/Psyc%20360%20Ch%203/self-efficacy.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • 4c3d says :

      Many thanks and for taking the time to bring this to my attention. I will certainly spend some time studying the document .


    • 4c3d says :

      Well – I have manged to get to the end of the article. I did not exactly find it “light reading” but very thought provoking and not only supportive of my ideas but offering evidence to back them up so thank you very much for bring it to my attention. I will attempt a review article a little later, you will have to see how well I do 🙂


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