Mission & Goals
The Learning Sciences Institute (LSI) is a Vanderbilt University-wide center dedicated to stimulating and supporting interdisciplinary research and development in the learning sciences. Through that work, the LSI seeks to improve education while developing a new generation of tomorrow’s leaders.
With over $80 million in external support, the LSI’s 100+ investigators are currently exploring a wide variety of topics such as conceptual and cultural change, the achievement gap, education leadership assessment, embodied mathematical cognition, teacher professional development, the role of culture in learning, and more.
In addition to fostering interdisciplinary research on learning, teaching, curriculum, and policy, the LSI works to build community and provide opportunities for scholarship in the learning sciences.
- Stimulate and support interdisciplinary work in the learning sciences at Vanderbilt
- Connect the disparate pockets of work on the learning sciences into a coherent whole, making connections along the continuum from basic research in neuroscience and psychology to applied work in education
- Strengthen the ties between research and development at the university and practice in the field (e.g., preK-12 and higher education, commercial products)
- Invigorate graduate and postdoctoral programs in the learning sciences at Vanderbilt
- Shape the direction and character of the evolving field of learning sciences
What Are the Learning Sciences?
Learning science is an emerging and evolving field growing out of cognitive science. The Journal of the Learning Sciences (with LSI investigator Rogers Hall as associate editor and LSI investigator Paul Cobb on the editorial board) began in 1991 and is the official publication of the International Society of the Learning Sciences. As one might expect with such a young field of study, there are disagreements as to the definition and character of the field. Inspection of recent issues of the Journal of the Learning Sciences finds attention given to situated learning (the interaction between individual learning and the learing and evolving field growing out of cognitive science. The Journal of the Learning Sciences finds attention given to situated learning (the interaction between individual learning and the learner's environment), investigations of learning transfer, the meaning and assessment of learning, technology-enabled learning, and instructional approaches.
The LSI seeks to connect learning sciences research and development along the continuum from the applied to the very basic. The LSI’s work focuses on the learning of disciplinary content including assessment, structure of disciplinary knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, learning in formal and informal educational settings, and equitable access to learning; learning of strategies for synthesizing solutions to open-ended or ambiguous problems such as those that occur in engineering design; the motivational, emotional, and social context of learning, including the roles of developmental, social/cultural, economic, political, historical, and environmental factors and indigenous knowledge systems; learning technologies, including intelligent tutoring systems, visualization tools, computer-supported collaborative environments, digital libraries, and real-time assessment tools; machine learning, learning algorithms, knowledge representations, robotics, adaptive systems, and computational simulations of cognitive systems; mathematical, statistical, and computational modeling; and the development of new tools and technologies to support the learning sciences.
To help define the field of learning sciences, the LSI has produced a 16-minute documentary about learning sciences research. The film captures how people learn, how teaching can be more effective, how curriculum can support learning, and how policy can enable or obstruct the productivity of the learning/teaching environment.