Learner Success Diagnostic Tool Participants' Guide text

Learner Success Diagnostic Tool Participants' Guide text

Last updated 8 March 2023
Last updated 8 March 2023

This guide helps prepare you to participate in group sessions using the Learner Success Diagnostic Tool (LSDT) at your organisation.

Version 1.0


Taking part in the sessions

Steps in the tool

What happens after using the tool



Background to the LSDT

The LSDT is an integral part of the learner success approach.

The tool is intended to be used by your organisation to undertake a self-assessment of your organisation’s level of maturity across a range of capabilities. These capabilities allow a tertiary education organisation (TEO) to design and implement a whole-of-organisation approach to improving outcomes for all its learners.

You will meet in a group with other people from your organisation to discuss learner success, how your organisation is doing, and opportunities for development.

The tool was originally designed by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) drawing on similar approaches in other jurisdictions and advice from subject matter experts in Aotearoa New Zealand. The tool was trialled as part of the TEC’s Learner Success Framework pilot projects, and insights from these projects were used to refine the specific questions and design of the tool. 

The tool has been redesigned over the past year (2022), in partnership with New Zealand tertiary education organisations.

A note on language

Throughout the LSDT we use the terms student, learner and tauira interchangeably. This is a conscious decision to reflect the diversity of those who engage in tertiary education and the different ways they identify.

Your role as a participant

The sessions with the tool bring a wide range of people together to discuss and arrive at a common understanding of your organisation’s current state in relation to learner success. As a participant, you will collaborate with others and help explore the steps in the tool by providing your expertise and honest opinions.

Your facilitator

Your facilitator plays a critical role in organising the sessions, keeping discussions focused and keeping the group moving forward. They provide continuity, especially if discussions take place over multiple sessions.

Taking part in the sessions

Setting the scene for learner success

Before using the tool, you may have discussions with your facilitator to prepare for the sessions ahead. This could include exploring and deciding on a shared definition of learner success for your organisation.

The seven capabilities

These are the key elements an organisation needs to get right to enable learners to succeed – whatever that looks like for each learner.

In the sessions, your facilitator will introduce and facilitate discussions around the following capabilities:

  1. People, culture and leadership – the commitment and collaboration of the tertiary education organisation’s (TEO’s) leadership to culturally conscious learner success for all, a clear vision for desired change, and a whole-of-organisation approach
  2. Data and technology – the ability to ethically collect, assess, analyse and use data to inform decisions, and to use technology to support learner success for all
  3. Guided pathways – clear and relevant educational pathways, from first engagement to employment, that foster learner success for all
  4. Holistic learner supports – planning and integrating critical learner, academic and personal supports into a seamless, culturally conscious, timely experience designed with and for every learner
  5. Learner-centric systems – policies and practices that improve outcomes for learners, and processes for reviewing and aligning policies and practices to remove barriers and enable learner success (including drawing from the evidence base of Māori/Indigenous and diverse learner success practices)
  6. Teaching and learning – implementation of learner-centric instructional design, meaningful professional development, and learning environments and contexts to be effective and culturally conscious, including kaupapa Māori-designed environments
  7. Partnerships – the development and support of partnerships between the TEO and relevant employers/industry, family and whānau, hapū, iwi and community groups, social agencies and education providers.

Steps in the tool

Step 1 – Define your ideal state

Here you will discuss each question with your group, then decide on an “ideal state” as an answer.

While some questions may relate to parts or functions of the organisation outside your area of expertise, it will still be useful to share your perceptions.

Step 2 – Assess your current state

Here you and your group will determine your organisation’s current progress, and agree on a score based on a scale defined by your ideal states in Step 1.

These assessments will serve as a rough benchmark that provides a holistic sense of your organisation’s current state.

Step 3 – Identify opportunities

In this stage you and your group review the summary report with your scores, ideal states and notes. Discuss this and identify opportunities for your organisation.

What happens after using the tool?

After using the tool, your organisation is in a position to start to look at the next stage of the Learner Success Framework (“Problem Definition”), by asking these types of questions:

  • What opportunity might you want to tackle first?
  • Where can you make the biggest gains?
  • Who needs to be involved in that process?


Thank you for using the Learner Success Diagnostic Tool. We plan to continuously improve the tool, so we want to hear your suggestions and experiences.

Please email your feedback (with the subject “LSDT feedback”) to: customerservice@tec.govt.nz.