Produced by Aaron Kessler and the IEEE ICICLE Design SIG

What is Learning Engineering?

Learning Engineering is a process and practice that

  • applies the learning sciences
  • using human-centered and engineering design methodologies and
  • [Iterative] data-informed decision making

to support learners and their learning.

Some practices come from a tradition of learning design disciplines (UXD, ID/ISD, Cognitive/Ed Psych, learning sciences) other parts from science and engineering (systems engineering, feedback loops, computer science, data sciences, psychometrics, motivational sciences, learning sciences).

What does the Learning Engineering process look like?Learning Engineering Process Strong Person

  1. Start with a problem or challenge associated with learners and learning. These problems are often complex and will likely require decisions to be made across multiple levels of the context system
  2. Understand the context of the problem and problem space
    1. learner(s) (and other stakeholders)
    2. contexts
    3. Resources (pedagogies, technologies, modalities, learning sciences knowledgebase, modalities, tools, …)
  3. Select a team to solve the problem. The talents needed will depend on the kind of the problem to be addressed.
  4. Engage in multiple rounds of design iteration focused on developing a solution in combination with,
  5. Engineering the instrumentation (data definitions, measurement method, measurement instruments, measurement tech…)
  6. Implement the designed solution and collect data through instrumentation.
  7. Data analysis to explore outcomes
  8. Results of data analysis bring to light gaps in the solution’s ability to fully/ideally solve the problem and may result in more questions being asked from the data, the iterating on design decisions, or the need for more implementations
  9. Filling in gaps can become a new problem to be solved or part of the previous processes iteration (return to step 1)

The representations that follow are presented linearly in order to better unpack and situate the different parts of the process. In reality, the parts of the process are likely considered and acted on concurrently. People engaging in this process might be contextually situated within very well defined and clearly articulated problem spaces, while others might be operating in diverse and ill-defined spaces. The key is that regardless of where you might fall on this continuum, the process used to develop solutions to enable learners to engage in the learning experience is organized in ways that leverage the processes described above and represented below. What will differ, sometimes dramatically, is the specific sets of skills and knowledge necessary to solve those problems (Goodell et al., 2020).

Learning Engineering Process


Learning Engineering Core Knowledge Flower enlarged as below:

Learning Engineering Core Knowledge Flower

Learning Engineering ProcessLearning Engineering ProcessLearning Engineering Process



Goodell, J., Kessler, A., Kurzweil, D., Koldner, J. (2020.) Competencies of Learning Engineering Teams and Team Members. In IEEE ICICLE proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Learning Engineering, Arlington, VA, May 2019.

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