Learner Personas

A learner persona is a short description of a typical learner. By personalizing learners, personas help instructors figure out who they’re trying to help and communicate that understanding to each other and to learners. Each persona has general background, relevant prior knowledge or experience, the learner’s perception of their needs, and any special considerations.

Any workshop, tutorial, how-to guide, or reference manual should be designed for one or two specific personas. The ones below were originally developed by the author for RStudio.

Persona In Brief Domain Knowledge Statistics Knowledge Programming Knowledge
Anya Academic A professor who needs training for her research and to pass on to students. expert competent competent
Celine Certified A certified professional instructor. competent competent competent
Exton Excel A proficient Excel user working in industry who wants to switch to R. competent novice novice
Jacqui Ofalltrades A data science generalist at a small consulting company. expert expert expert
Katrin Keener An R enthusiast. competent competent competent
Larry Legacy A reluctant learner who would really rather just keep using the tools he knows. expert expert novice
M'shelle Manager An ex-programmer who now leads a team and needs to make decisions about tool adoption and training. competent novice competent
Nang Newbie An undergraduate student without statistical knowledge, programming skills, and real-world experience. novice novice novice
Toshi Techsupport A sys admin who has to support data scientists. expert novice expert


  1. A novice is someone who doesn’t yet have a mental model of some field: as a result, they don’t know what they don’t know. Someone is competent if they know enough to perform routine tasks without heroic effort, while they are an expert if they are able to solve common problems at a glance and harder or more unusual problems reliably.

  2. The domains in these personas (such as pharmacy or event management) are meant to be placeholders: swap in another domain such as finance or logistics as desired.