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Aurora Institute

Announcing the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

SATCI just heard about the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative. This is a great opportunity for the field of competency education. There are so many things we need to know more about. Here are a few things at the top of my list:

  • What is the impact of CBE on teachers and teaching given how much they are “all in,” “give it a try,” or “this too shall pass” and the specific structures such as planning time, PLCs, calibration, and willingness to do what is right for kids especially giving permission to teach students not curriculum?
  • When is there greater benefit from teaching students where they are at (performance levels) rather than grade level standards, taking into account academic domain, instructional strategies, age, maturity, and where they fall on the continuum between efficacy and learned helplessness? (See Time to Tackle the Elephant.)

Here is the announcement from Jobs for the Future:

The 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, with initial thought leadership of and support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, will formally launch this fall with a core group of soon-to-be-selected scholars, school leaders, policymakers, practitioners, and funders, each known for their impact and influence, coming together to clarify and catalyze the field. Their bold 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 effect meaningful change at scale.

Do you want to join the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative as we grow and share the evidence for student-centered approaches to learning? If so, we encourage you to take advantage of one of the important and impactful opportunities below.

OPPORTUNITY 1 – Released March 14, 2016, a Request for Proposals on student-centered learning, with a preference for basic exploratory research. Research teams must be led by an established research institution with a track record of high-quality research related to the subject area. 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. Application due May 3, 2016. Learn more at

OPPORTUNITY 2 – Released March 14, 2016, seeking Students at the Center Distinguished 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 communications for practitioners and policymakers. 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. Applications due April 11, 2016. Learn more at

UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES – Submit a research proposal for a basic exploratory study or an improvement science study. We anticipate releasing two additional RFPs in May 2016: one for an additional exploratory study similar to the March 14 RFP above, and a second RFP for a practice-grounded, improvement science study. Each of the forthcoming RFPs will follow a two-year timeframe as well. The improvement science RFP will contain additional funds to account for the deeper involvement of district and policy partners.

Please stay tuned for more announcements and more ways to get involved in the weeks and months ahead. You can check for the most updated information.