The Learning Policy Center has a mission of advancing ideas that encompass both education policy and learning theories. Despite the fact that learning is at the heart of current education policy debates, most educational policy research does not draw upon learning theories to understand why change in instructional practice is so difficult. Nor does this research examine how contemporary learning theories might provide leverage for practical education change.
At the same time, those who research learning—even those who have moved from the laboratory into the classroom—have not paid explicit attention to the organizational and policy contexts in which teaching and learning take place. This limits their ability to understand the conditions that shape students' and teachers' opportunities to learn.
The Learning Policy Center explores the possibilities for productive synergy between policy and learning by attracting faculty committed to researching the relationship between these two areas. Additionally, a new academic program in learning policy will be developed to produce the next generation of policy analysts and scholars, who will ideally examine this relationship with a special emphasis on the role of learning—from both an individual cognitive perspective and a social/organizational perspective.
We envision that students will benefit from serving as apprentices to active researchers who possess major grants in these areas. Students, in turn, will be expected to produce theses and dissertations that move the emerging field of learning policy forward.
Mary Kay Stein, professor in the School of Education and senior scientist with Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center
, is the Center's founding director. Stein's scholarship combines insights gained throughout more than a decade of intensive research conducted within classrooms. Her studies include analyses of the social and institutional policies and practices needed to support effective teaching and learning.
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