Understand the ‘Learner Engagement Equation’

Understand the ‘Learner Engagement Equation’ – comes from the Free Guide – ‘Are you frustrated by training that creates short term interest but not long term change?.

Understanding the Learner Engagement Equation (LEE) of ‘IFSO over Infinity’ is critical to understand the size of the challenge that we face.

  •   ‘I’ stands for Me. And this element of the equation deals with the ‘What’s in it for me?’. Of course,  we’ve all been to classes, rocked-up on the day and ‘just got through it’.
  •  ‘F’ stands for First Impressions. The Learner’s mind-set has been ‘trained’ to think that education/learning/training adds no real value. Thus the Learner seeks a first impression that mirrors their mindset.
  •   ‘S’ stands for Support. The support that we receive from our Line Manager is critical to shaping how much and how well we engage. Indeed, a trivial comment can easily undermine our learning enthusiasm.
  •  ‘O’ stands for Opportunity. The learning has to be relevant to the Learner’s job. And they have to see immediate opportunities to practise what they have learnt.

I+F+S+O - Learner Engagement Equation

Over Infinity = Learner Engagement - Learner Engagement Equation

Learner Engagement Equation

Top Row of the Equation – IFSO

The four elements across the top of LEE make the acronym ‘If so’. This is deliberate. And that is because if any of these 4 elements is not better than what the learner expects, the Learner will revert to their default. And that is often a negative mindset. Therefore, when engaging the Learner, the advice to remember for the top row is:
‘Get all of these right to achieve Success. Because getting one wrong is Failure!’.

Bottom Row of the Equation – the Infinity symbol

The bottom row is where the negative elements of the equation hide. And they are numerous, which is why the infinity symbol represents them. And they have conspired at school, through part-time jobs, University, and in corporate organisations to form our mindset towards training. Here is a non-exhaustive list of what infinity includes:
Lunch + trainer + venue+ handouts + training experiences + late arrivals + school learning + work learning + previous training courses + number of breaks on the course + getting to training + amount of work + learning about mindset from home at the moment.
Indeed, the infinity symbol at the bottom of the Learner Engagement Equation can easily overpower the 4 elements above. Therefore, the advice here for the bottom row when engaging the Learner is: ‘Get most of these right to achieve Neutral. Get one wrong is Failure!’.


Engaging Learners effectively, from the start of their journey to the end, is critical if we want them to use what they have learnt. Therefore identify which element is weakest in your organisation. Then use one of the other solutions in this guide to improve it.

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