Response to Tom March’s CEQ-ALL Profiles…

Originally I wanted to post this as a video-response… but time factors, sleep deprivation and bad hair days didn’t make this an appealing option so back to a text post. Sorry!

In response to Lisa’s question about whether I think Tom March’s profiles can be compared to my typology of online community profiles, firstly, I want to say: THANK YOU FOR A GREAT QUESTION! 🙂  This interaction highlights how communication in online environments and facilitative questioning can help learners to develop higher-order thinking through interactions with each other. Lisa’s question prompted me contrast my profiles against the ones by Tom March.

Let’s start with similarities:

  • Both describe and classify types of learners
  • Both align with a theoretical framework for learning
  • Both offer descriptions of learning situations, including negative situations where learners feel disengaged.

Before we go on to analyse  the differences, let’s review one March’s CEQ-ALL framework which in summary is:

A process for learners to follow their interests through a cycle of Choice to the application of Effort in pursuit of a Quality outcome which then merges into an ongoing Labor of Love.

Here’s one of the colourful profiles to get a taste of his crazy rhetoric:

Party Girl / Boy
Perhaps a variant of the “Just Get By” profile, school has very little relevance to the lives of the “Party Girl/Boy.” They may also be “At-Risk” in that their high excitement pastimes like computer gaming, socialising / chatting, under-age drinking / sex, etc. can be addictive. The challenge is to open the idea of curriculum much wider for this group so that they can explore their amusements and ultimately touch the wisdom that can see through to the impermanence of such pleasures. “Telling” these children isn’t helpful, nor is nagging or “just saying ‘no’.” With the wider field of play for student learning, CEQ•ALL should do its work when students pursue the higher phases: Quality, Attitude and Labor or Love. The temporary thrills they are used to will be counter balanced by the more enduring feelings they generate themselves. Whatever course content is “lost” by exploring more contemporary issues can be regained when the Party Girl/Boy applies their creative energy to learning is meaningful.

My profile typology of learners is fundamentally different to March’s profiles because:

  • March’s CEQ-ALL framework asks educators to categorise learners through the profiles when considering instructional design for learning in order to make a change. My profiles are purely descriptive of what is happening in a social learning context and isn’t trying to implement change. There is an ontological difference between our intentions with the typologies.
  • March’s profiles are derived from negative and bizarre anecdotal stereotypes of learners , rather than tested education research held up to sound methodological rigour. My profiles were developed from a personal phenomenological perspective framed by Lave & Wenger’s (1991) research into legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) in communities of practice.
  • Whereas LPP has been instrumental in research into social learning environments and has been cited by over 20,000 authors (see Google Scholar citations), articles on CEQ-ALL barely receives 5 citations (mainly March is citing himself).

Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP) describes various roles or identities of learners interacting in a learning community. Similar to my idea of lurkers, newcomers to a community may sit on the periphery while they are new to the sociocultural practices of a community. As they become more experienced, they move from practice at the periphery to becoming a fully-fledged practitioner, or in terms of my typology, an active enthusiast. My loner profile can be described by LPP as a community member who become disengaged from the identity of the community and no longer shares in active participation.

By reflecting on the credibity of March’s CEQ-ALL profiles and framework versus the thousands of refereed research publications on LPP and social learning in online settings, I use this information as applied to my own context to evaluate the legitimacy of the two typologies. Though I can relate to some parts of March’s profiles, overall the descriptors just don’t stick: not only are the profiles of learners incredibly judgmental, restrictive, and presumptuous, it doesn’t acknowledge the fact that a learner may fall into numerous categories or none of them at all.

Although the CEQ-ALL framework has hints of choice theory (Glasser, 1998) and authentic learning (Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2006), it is mostly simplistic, ambiguous, lacking reason, and just plain weird. It reminds me of American evangelists and their fear-mongering false dichotomies, and narrow-minded solutions. Looking at the differences between the two typologies, though I do see some similarities, mostly I see differences.

Tom March Motivation Speaker


As per the COI practical inquiry model discussed in this post, in terms of cognition this exercise enabled me to reflect on my existing knowledge of learning and consider whether CEQ-ALL was relevant to my context. Through critical evaluation of the logic behind March’s profiles and framework, and inability to apply either to my real-life context, I have been able to make a reasoned evaluation which can now be applied to my own practice.


Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory in the classroom. New York: Harper Paperbacks.

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2006). Authentic tasks online: A synergy among learner, task, and technology. Distance Education, 27(2), 233–247.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

March, T. (2006.). CEQ•ALL Applied to a Range of Student Profiles.   Retrieved 20 March, 2012, from


One response to “Response to Tom March’s CEQ-ALL Profiles…

  1. I just found another set of typologies that offer more food for thought:
    Has a lot more categories than mine but shares a few similarities. Damn, I wish I found this site last week!

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