Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-10-29-58-pmThe Students at the Center initiative at Jobs for the Future is excited to announce a first-of-its-kind research collaborative that will build, define, apply, and share a robust evidence base for student-centered learning. The Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative began this bold new initiative this spring and will formally launch this fall with a core group of scholars, school leaders, policymakers, practitioners, and funders, each known for their impact and influence, coming together to clarify and catalyze the field. Their charge: to work in partnership to investigate and evaluate what we know about student-centered learning both in and beyond today’s schools, and then leverage that knowledge to affect meaningful change at scale. The Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative is grateful for thought leadership and anchor funding from The Nellie Mae Education Foundation and additional support from Overdeck Family Foundation.

View the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative Concept Paper

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Current Studies

Learn more about the research that is already under way as part of this effort: 

Education Development Center is conducting a mixed-methods study in partnership with 10 Maine school districts. The aims of the study are to quantitatively characterize profiles of student-centered learning implementation by leveraging student feedback survey data, and to investigate the relationship between implementation and student outcomes. We will focus specifically on how this relationship may differ according to student economic need and prior achievement. The qualitative component of the study will go deeper to situate quantitative findings within state, district, and school context for three participating districts. Quantitative results will inform the selection of sites for qualitative data collection. Study data will include responses on the Competency-Based Learning Survey for Students and student-level administrative data from all students in grades 9-12, along with data from interviews, focus groups, and document review in three districts.
Funding provided by: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Research indicates that collaboration may be a particularly important feature of student-centered learning for meeting the needs of traditionally underserved students, yet racial/ethnic differences in students’ experiences of collaboration are an aspect of personalized learning that is often overlooked. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) Learning With Others study examines the role that collaboration plays in the personalization of learning within student-centered classrooms and associated outcomes for Grade 9–12 students from varying racial/ethnic backgrounds, particularly those who identify as Black. This study will address three questions: (1) How are students’ experiences of collaboration related to student outcomes? (2) To what extent do opportunities for collaboration, classroom experiences, and outcomes, as well as relationships between among factors, differ by race and ethnicity? (3) What contextual, school-level factors do teachers identify as helping or hindering their ability to provide opportunities for collaboration in diverse student-centered classrooms? To address our research questions, we will collect in-depth student-, teacher-, and classroom-level data from four to six student-centered high schools that employ personalized learning approaches, offer regular opportunities for collaboration, and serve a racially diverse population of students, including at least 25% students who identify as Black.
Funding provided by: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation

American Institutes for Research and New Tech Network are partnering to study teacher practices that support the development of student agency. Four New Tech Network schools will participate in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) to design, test, and revise these teacher practices. The goal of the NIC will be to develop a menu of effective teaching practices that promote key elements of student agency, such as self-efficacy, self-regulated learning, and persistence. This project also will examine how measures of student agency are related to students’ academic outcomes, and whether these relationships are similar across students from different racial/ethnic backgrounds.
Co-funding provided by: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation

The High Tech High K-12 schools and the High Tech High Graduate School of Education have partnered with middle and high schools from four districts across San Diego county to improve student agency and learning outcomes in math, particularly for students from traditionally marginalized groups. This community will use improvement science as a framework for testing, refining and spreading “high leverage” practices that reframe mathematical struggle as learning, engage students in collaborative problem solving, shift mathematical discourse to be more student-centered, make mathematical thinking visible, and develop student-led assessment structures that promote a growth mindset.
Co-funding provided by: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation

More about the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative

From its inception, the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative will offer a unique approach to asking and answering some of the biggest questions we have about student-centered learning. Delving into crucial issues of practice related to personalized learning, competency-based education, extended instructional opportunities beyond the school day, and the role student agency and autonomy plays in shaping academic outcomes, the Research Collaborative will be supplying the field with much needed clarification and coherence. But that’s not all. The Research Collaborative also will be translating that research for practitioner and policymaker audiences and creating content in a variety of forms to help the general public recognize what student-centered learning can do for kids from all backgrounds, particularly those who have been least served by traditional methods. And if you’re someone who understands student-centered learning to be more than a powerful set of enriching and equity-enhancing practices—in other words, if you understand it as something akin to a movement—then the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative promises to be that movement’s home.

How will the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative accomplish this?

Through three main activities:

  • Conducting new and innovative research on student-centered learning approaches to catalyze development and build coherence within the field
  • Serving as the communicator and sense-maker of the Collaborative’s work as well as the curator and clearinghouse for all studies related to student-centered learning
  • Continuing to build the evidence base of good implementation, and developing tools to help practitioners and policymakers apply research on student-centered learning in their unique settings

What, specifically, will the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative do?

It will select nine fellows who are either emerging or established leaders in policy, practice, or research with ongoing engagement in student-centered learning efforts, who want to sharpen their skills in translating research into sense-making tools and implementation strategies for practitioners and policymakers. It will also fund three studies on student-centered learning, two of which will be basic exploratory research, and one of which will use the techniques of improvement science.

Collaborative members will conduct original research on student-centered practices, curate existing scholarship for multiple audiences, and generally catalyze the field so that important findings make the necessary and often rare transition from research to practice. Because theory, practice, data, and decision-making are always intertwined, the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative will undertake its work in an integrated, interdisciplinary fashion. Focused initially on the New England region, the goal of the collaborative will be to bring a variety of core stakeholders together to make measurable improvements in the way we understand and implement student-centered principles in today’s schools. A crucial part of the Collaborative’s work will be to identify the institutional conduits where new knowledge will produce the most positive change—particularly for traditionally underserved students—and to determine the most compelling forms of public messaging that will help student-centered learning practices gain the greatest traction in our local, regional, and national conversations about education.

View the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative Concept Paper

 

Investigating the Evidence for Student-Centered Learning

We are seeking proposals from researchers and research institutions that describe one- to two-year research projects that investigate the contexts, components, and impacts of student-centered learning approaches. In particular, we are looking to understand the effectiveness of specific student-centered practices, the conditions that support (and undermine) them, who most (and least) benefits from them, and why.

Access the full RFP and all submission information

The Implementation of Student-Centered Learning Approaches

We are seeking proposals from researchers from grant-eligible research institutions that describe two-year projects investigating the implementation of student-centered learning practices, while also measuring the effects of these practices on students, particularly those who are members of historically underserved subgroups.

Access the full RFP and all submission information

Investigating the Evidence for Student-Centered Learning

We are seeking proposals from researchers and research institutions that describe one- to two-year research projects that investigate the contexts, components, and impacts of student-centered learning approaches. In particular, we are looking to understand the effectiveness of specific student-centered practices, the conditions that support (and undermine) them, who most (and least) benefits from them, and why.

Access the full RFP and all submission information

The Students at the Center Distinguished Fellowship

This is a high impact, high visibility, two-year, competitive program open to only nine fellows. In the inaugural cohort, three fellowships will be reserved for researchers, three for policymakers, and three for practitioners. The practice and policy fellows must work and reside in New England, and the research fellows must be gathering and analyzing data from the New England area. Through a generous stipend, personalized competency coaching, interdisciplinary partnerships, and ample staff assistance, all Students at the Center Distinguished Fellows will receive the support they need to develop their research muscles in service of translating student-centered learning research for various stakeholders. The Fellows will work with the Collaborative’s Advisors, research teams, and staff to produce implementation tools that help schools ramp up their use of student-centered practices. Fellows will also curate and communicate findings from multiple fields to help the general public understand the value and positive impact student-centered practices can have.

Access the Fellowship application and all submission information

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