Research teams at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, have been concerned, over many years, to uncover the ‘raw building blocks’ of learning, the actual components of learning itself … not abilities, styles or capacities but those key attributes that govern ‘Learning Power’. They have consistently found that learning can be broken down into 7 identifiable units.

ELLI (the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory) is the on-line instrument that tracks the learner’s development as they gain proficiency in each of the 7 dimensions. Each ELLI profile, a Spidergraphic, captures the learner’s proficiency across all 7 dimensions at the point at which the instrument is completed. This profile provides scores against each dimension which, in combination, have become known as the learner’s ‘Learning Power’.

ELLI plots the learner’s raw potential, mapping strengths and weaknesses across the dimensions and by tracking change, proves beyond reasonable doubt that learning is learnable. Thus, Learning Power changes over time and can be measured over time. It is not an ‘ability’ but rather an innate energy present in everyone and an energy that can be captured to create improvement.



The key to understanding the latent power of tracking changes in a learner’s learning profile is to treat the 7 dimensions as attitudes or dispositions and the product of mindset rather than abilities or skills.


Where a learner’s learning energy in each of the 7 dimensions is positioned between two opposite poles. This energy varies through time, even in the same individual, depending upon context, social and developmental interventions.

The ‘ideal learners’ are theoretical ideals and neither personality types nor learning styles. They refer to all aspects of raw learning power and are accessible to everyone.


Our young people must learn to embrace every learning experience if they are to adapt to changes in the society in which they will grow up …


Day after day we are exposed to new ideas, new experiences and new knowledge but it is what we do with it that counts. A proficient learner will combine the new with what they already know and have learned and either purposefully or intuitively, change their attitudes or the way they behave.


This is the student who can be either the teacher’s pet or the teacher’s nightmare! Unaccepting of an interim solution or unprepared to paper over the cracks when problem-solving. Always has a further question and wanting to get to the truth of the matter or the root cause.

Strength here is often found to be an attribute of a
natural leader in team and project work ….

We find that those who exhibit profile ‘spikes’ in Meaning Making tend to make the best use of their learning resources such as library and internet …


Constantly researching and investigating to find the new or unexpected in order to add value to what is already known. A propensity for learning, making linkages and seeking out hidden connections to gain an improved insight into the ‘bigger picture’. The purpose will often be to gain a purposeful vision of what the future may hold or look like.


Apparently unphased by difficult situations and likes to experiment. Characterised by risk-taking, playfulness and ‘thinking outside the box’ by regularly using imagination and intuition. Receptive to hunches and inklings that bubble randomly into the mind.

Creativity in young people shows up in a number of
very diverse forms from athletes to wordsmiths, and,
unsurprisingly, truants and ring-leaders !

Scoring regularly a reflection not only of relations with teachers and peer group but parental guidance and interest …


Moves easily between contrasting learning environments with confidence. Open to the contributions of others and willing to compromise if circumstances demand it. Naturally inclusive and willing to delegate. This is important where colleagues and students are being encouraged to think of themselves as part of a learning-centred organisation.


Sufficiently self-aware to be able to construct and deconstruct situations by using personal thoughts, feelings and actions as a learner to manage the learning process. This creates a strategic awareness that becomes invaluable in times of uncertainty and potential transition.

Tend to know what they want out of life at a very young age, determined and taking transitioning in their stride …

Whilst persistence is an important attribute in the
young student it should not be at the expense of a
balanced proficiency in other dimensions ….


Having an orientation towards perseverance in the development of personal Learning Power. Relishes challenge such that is enabled to remain unmoved in diversity and exhibit a sustained strength of purpose when the going gets tough. It is nonetheless important that a pronounced ‘spike’ in the learner’s profile is balanced by strengths elsewhere and no undue demonstration of weakness.

‘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 .