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Mission and Impact

What Did LearnLab Set Out to Do?

We set out to create a center that would provide a cross-disciplinary international laboratory for advancing a practical science of robust student learning.  Our goal was to create technology-enhanced experiments that would be situated in real classrooms and that will be associated with day-to-day learning of various parts of the curriculum primarily in science, mathematics and second language acquisition in high schools and colleges.  Our aim was to design educational technologies that not only yield dramatic increases in student achievement, but also provide rigorous experimental support for precise and generalizable learning principles that can account for these increases.

What Has Been the Impact of LearnLab?

The discovery that optimal learning depends on the nature of desired knowledge has had impact on cognitive and educational psychologists who are now more deliberately pursuing studies to understand the boundary conditions on when instructional principles are or are not effective. Many more researchers are running experiments in the context of functioning courses (in vivo experiments) through the use of technology, like online courses, intelligent tutors, or educational games.  Computer scientists are advancing machine learning algorithms and testing techniques to improve online learning using data in DataShop.

More generally, LearnLab has enriched learning science by establishing and supporting unprecedented collaborations among current and future laboratory scientists, computer scientists and instructors. LearnLab has become the world’s best example of big data and big science being applied to the question of how students learn.

We have had practical impact through science and technology-enhanced innovations in many courses (e.g., LearnLab courses, ASSISTments, OLI, MathTutor, PlayPower Labs) and in course development infrastructures (e.g., OLI, CTAT).  We have helped many corporate partners adopt evidence-based research practices (e.g., Pearson, Kaplan, Carnegie Learning, BloomBoard, DDI).  We continue to train PhD students in the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research and professional masters students in METALS.  Through the Simon Initiative we have created and supported the Global Learning Council with a particular commitment toward improving higher education through outcome-oriented research and technology-enhanced learning innovations.