2.1 ELLI and Learning Power assessment: A Prestigious Pedigree

  • THE IDEA: Professors Patricia Broadfoot CBE, assessment guru, and Guy Claxton, learning luminary, sought to    determine the essential attributes that govern learning, especially among schoolchildren. They perceived there to be a pressing need to better understand the process of learning not just as a driver of academic performance but as a determinant of successful citizenship.
  •  RESEARCH: Professor Broadfoot set up and led a research team within the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, to develop an appropriate academic and operational research methodology.
  • DEVELOPMENT: the research team’s first task was to create and prototype a questionnaire inventory which could   be completed on-line and refined in multi-cohort testing internationally. This was expected to  establish the raw ‘building blocks’ that underlie the learning process.
  • TEST: The Effective Lifelong Inventory became known affectionately as ELLI and was tested among over 100,000 people internationally, principally residents in English-speaking countries but drawn from all walks of life. Output would be a simple ‘Spidergraphic’, compiled electronically from the raw data.
  • ANALYSIS: ELLI (the inventory) was further refined from feedback by teachers, trainers and specialists in personal development and throughout, the common learner attributes were found to be no more than 7 recognisable dimensions. Importantly, ELLI had also been found to be immediately responsive to changes in personal circumstance and learning environment. It could, therefore, be used to track learner proficiency or Learning Power throughout life.
  • If Learning Power was now measurable, this had major implications for a revision or reinvigoration of teaching pedagogy. There was an opportunity to transform traditional classroom and workplace culture by addressing and strengthening learner dispositions, dispositions that would have lifelong implications.
  • MARKET: ELLI was sold to UK schools, to UK universities, to students under the auspices of Penn State University in the USA, and to charities concerned with the resettlement of offenders and displaced or disadvantaged communities. It then challenged the trait-casting of psychometrics. 

Learning Power: Catalyst to Transformational Teaching Practice, thereby Steering Student Learning for Life

Our ability to transform and track Learning Power proficiency with such a high degree of authority and accuracy has had a transformational effect on teaching styles, teaching practice and business strategic planning. It allows us to unmask the learner and make a sustainable contribution to their personal growth, their life choices and chances and their contribution to the demands of citizenship in a rapidly changing world. Such an unmasking enables the learner, with our assistance, to take ‘ownership’ of the learning process, understand the underlying drivers of their behaviours and manage the rigours of change.

Teachers and managers across the world have been working with Learning Power to turn a formidable piece of academic research into a methodology that is capable of revolutionising the performance of not only teacher and student but the labour market and individual employability within an entire  community.

Transformational Teaching Practice

Discovering and tracking the developing Learning Power of their students has motivated  teachers to create a series of pathways to share their experience more widely.

They have distilled their observations of student learners into a number of recognisable dispositions which in turn have led to the isolation of the most prominent habits and behaviours. Of particular importance has been the development of an understanding of how best to address the challenge of a lack of resilience and persistence when students are faced with difficulty.

These teachers have uncovered the truth about ‘how’ their students learn, found that learning is learnable and made enormous strides in improving student performance in the classroom and beyond. Students are better motivated and have become better learners.  

The Social Imperative

The world has changed a great deal faster than even the most illustrious scientists, economic and social forecasters and astute pundits could ever have predicted. However, there are some changes to the wider society that have less to do with changing economic circumstances and the pandemic than they do with underlying trends that have been with us for more than a generation.

The populations of the world’s more advanced countries are ageing as healthcare and living conditions favour longevity but bringing with it an increasing gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Indeed, environmental and humanitarian disasters associated with climate change, earthquakes and the like contribute to the more rapid spread of disease, crop failures, malnutrition and poverty in the third world. These nations increasingly depend for their very existence on the financial and charitable support of the sources of global wealth.

So, what does this mean for today’s populations and generations to come?

With unprecedented access to massive banks of knowledge distributed by the emergent digital, electronic and social technologies, all of us are having to develop an enhanced Learning Power to equip us to meet the challenges of a global community, a community devoid of its traditional borders and boundaries.

Creativity, innovation and productivity have become the hallmarks of competitive advantage at every level and a direct reflection of our ability to harness collective intelligence and translate learning into purposeful action.

Learning to learn begins in the school classroom but its mastery has serious implications for life.

Ageing, healthcare, public services, climate change, technological advance, and environmental issues are but some of the g


rowing demands on future citizens.

Citizenship, however, no longer respects national borders and boundaries as information technologies ensure that none of us is immune to global extremes

The Economic Imperative

  • The decade of the 2020s has delivered a new norm in which the proficient learner will become an architect of both personal and national success
  • Willingness to learn, a receptive and responsive disposition, together with an ability to embrace change, well-rehearsed resilience, resourcefulness and the building of purposeful and collaborative relationships will characterise those that become the pillars of a return to economic growth
  • the economies of the 2020s will be reborn only if their educators marry the delivery of new knowledge with the learning skills to create positive learning dispositions that are sustainable throughout life.

2020 and the Covid 19 pandemic created a world in which life’s former order changed irretrievably within a few short months. Governments found themselves in circumstances where their economies had become embattled by debt, poverty, unemployment, an unprecedented surge in the use and abuse of technology and a serious disconnect between education systems and the young people they had  hereto been designed to serve.

Lockdown had delivered an emergent generation deprived of the social and academic disciplines of classroom convention with both parents and teachers reluctant to return to an environment whose safety was constantly being called into question. However, confronted by, and learning to live with, a new norm had caught nation after nation off-guard and every generation was found ill-equipped to adapt to such instant and material change.

Now, as never before, the ability to learn, and learn fast, will challenge even the most resilient among us and call on our resourcefulness, our collaborative working and our propensity to accommodate new knowledge without the bank of experiences on which we could rely previously

The Personal Imperative

Learning how to learn by using Learning Power productively creates personal identity. There is no more valuable legacy than the schooldays of the 2020s have to offer …

Growing up in the 21st Century amid the complex currents of globalisation and the struggle for economic and social sustainability at home means exposure to the multiple pressures and uncertainties that challenge mental and physical well-being. Young people are confronted by a struggle for identity with such as livelihood, sexuality and loyalty a source of public scrutiny.


Whether the young person flounders or flourishes depends on their mental and emotional development.


ELLI is an acronym, an affectionate reference to its root, the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory. It is made up of self-assessment questions using the same multiple choice answers ranging from ‘Not at all like me’ to ‘Very much like me’. Questions are randomised so that students don’t learn how to answer but answer each question honestly and authentically.

The ELLI Spidergraphic profile prompts students to

talk about their learning and consciously use the language of the 7 dimensions.

ELLI’’s students and teachers become fascinated by the story that each profile tells.

This particular learner exhibits a strength in Resilience, disposed to persist and keep on trying whilst also, to a more limited extent, being aware of what they are trying to accomplish and to learn.

However, this student of her learning does not yet understand why she needs to learn, does not  know how to use her personal resources such as her imagination and what she has already learned. She is also struggling with knowing how and when to work independently.

The University of Bristol research discovered that the learning profile is also responsive to the circumstances of the immediate environment (home or workplace) and is sensitive to both relationships and social challenge


‘Learning is the eye of the mind’

In these days of uncertainty, change is unpredictable but inevitable. Offering every citizen of this newly fashioned world the opportunity to create a lifelong learning mind-set is our endeavour. Lifelong learning has become the critical success factor underpinning economic and social performance and productive global citizenship .