Introducing the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative

November 2, 2016

Jobs for the Future (JFF), in partnership with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, announced today the launch of the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative. The Research Collaborative is a new effort to investigate and evaluate what we know about student-centered learning and leverage that knowledge to effect meaningful change at scale.

The first-of-its-kind research initiative will build, share, and apply a robust evidence base for student-centered learning by engaging diverse individuals and organizations. The collaborative is made up of high-level and emerging researchers, highly effective educators and administrators, and policymakers. Each is involved in the investigation or implementation of student-centered learning approaches. JFF brought the members of the Collaborative together this week for a two-day kickoff meeting in Boston, MA.

The Research Collaborative is comprised of nine Distinguished Fellows—leaders in policy, practice, and research who are serving a two-year term that began May 2016—along with a group of prominent advisors and teams from four newly funded research studies. Two of the research teams will be conducting basic exploratory research and the other two will use the techniques of improvement science.

“These fellows are uniquely qualified to leverage research findings toward the creation of student-centered learning at scale,” said Eve Goldberg, Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s director of research. “They were chosen not only based on their impressive qualifications but their passion for moving this field forward across New England and beyond.”

“To have some of best researchers, administrators, teachers, and policymakers all working on identifying student-centered learning practices, measuring their benefits, understanding their challenges, and looking for ways to elevate and expand them so all students can benefit is inspiring and will be a game changer,” said Rebecca E. Wolfe, senior director of the Students at the Center Initiative.

The goals of the Research Collaborative are to:

  • Support new research on the principles of student-centered learning to spark innovation and build coherence within the field
  • Translate and publicize the Collaborative’s work and serve as a clearinghouse for studies related to student-centered learning
  • Highlight cases of strong student-centered learning in the field, and develop approaches that help educators and policymakers apply research on student-centered learning in their unique settings

While there is strong and increasing evidence that students benefit from student-centered approaches, challenges arise in the implementation of student-centered learning at scale. The Collaborative will work to identify these obstacles and look for solutions.

Collaborative members will conduct original research on student-centered practices, curate existing scholarship for multiple audiences, and try to ensure that important findings make the necessary and often rare transition from research to practice. A crucial part of the Collaborative’s work will be to identify how new knowledge can produce positive change—particularly for traditionally underserved students—and to determine the most compelling forms of public messaging that will help student-centered learning gain traction.

With thought leadership and anchor funding from The Nellie Mae Education Foundation and additional support from Overdeck Family Foundation, the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative is a core project of JFF’s Students at the Center Initiative. Students at the Center supports researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to promote learning that is: personalized; competency based; flexible and can take place anytime, anywhere; and encourages students to take ownership over their educational experience.

To learn more about the research that is already underway as part of this effort, please visit the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative. Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates about the work of the Research Collaborative and to be the first to know about new Research Collaborative opportunities.

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