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MIT Integrated Learning Initiative names third annual grant recipients

Nearly $200K awarded to innovative MIT research on the science of learning and learning effectiveness

The MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili) has selected four projects to receive grants to research the science of learning and ways to make learning more effective. MITili grants focus on wide ranging topics including policy, neuroscience, and socioeconomic factors, with a focus on all levels of learning from pK-12 to higher education and workplace learning. This is MITili’s third award of an annual grant making to continue in subsequent years. The grants had been paused due to the pandemic the previous two years.

Meta-LAD: Designing an adaptive dashboard improving online learners’ metacognition as well as cognition — Eva Ponce (Center for Transportation and Logistics)

While Learning Analytics Dashboards (LADs) have been widely studied and implemented to improve learning and teaching experiences, most of these LADs are limited to only providing information on learners’ prior performance without actionable feedback. Such LAD designs lead learners to be more focused on earning high scores on tasks which is not necessarily equal to learning knowledge and skills. These performance-focused designs can even demotivate learners by making them feel behind.

The main goals of this team’s research are (1) developing the Metacognitive-Learning Analytics Dashboard (Meta-LAD) which could identify learners’ profiles and personalize its metacognitive feedback to them and (2) improving learners’ metacognitive skills and performance in the CTL SC0x course through the Meta-LAD.

The Reflective Maker: Studying the Role of Personalized Reflection in the Learning of Maker-Skills — Stefanie Mueller (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory)

While teachers have been trained to personalize reflection for each student by talking to them about their mistakes, such manual intervention does not scale to large classrooms. Thus, many teachers only provide generic reflection prompts, such as standardized questions for students to think about as they do the task. This, however, fails to personalize reflection for each students’ individual learning gaps.

The goal of this research project is to measure if automatically generated personalized reflection prompts lead to better learning effectiveness than generic standardized reflection prompts that are the same for each learner.

Evaluating the Effects of Advanced Placement Coursework on Post-secondary Achievement — Joshua Angrist (Economics)

The returns to college vary dramatically across fields of study. Well-documented disparities in college major choice may therefore contribute to later gaps in earnings. How do students decide what to study? Evidence suggests that students value both expected earnings and non-pecuniary factors such as expected career satisfaction and fulfillment. However, little is known about how earlier educational investments shape college major choices.

The findings from this project stand to inform the active debate on the merits of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the content of high school curricula. While over 9 out of 10 public school students are estimated to have at least one AP exam at their school, and over 40% of public high school graduates take at least one AP exam, significant gaps in AP access and participation remain.

Comparative study between students choosing internships vs self-guided experiential projects within the ReACT program — Admir Masic (MIT Refugee Action Hub)

The MIT Refugee Action Hub (ReACT) aims to accelerate talented individuals to become agents of positive change in their career and communities. The MIT ReACT CDS Program is guided by four core pillars which leverage the strengths of MIT:

● Academics

● Skills

● Professional Internships and Experiential Learning

● Networks

The purpose of this quasi-experimental study is to assess the learning effectiveness of an academic/behavioral intervention. More specifically, we aim to study the effect of offering structured mentoring opportunities in the ReACT Computer and Data Science (CDS) Certificate Program, and understand if/how it affects the learner experience and future work placement.

About MITili
Over the past six years MITili has been funding, connecting, and sharing research investigating learning effectiveness. The research ranges, for example, from scans of individual learners in Brain and Cognitive Sciences to applying data analytics to understand the implications of policy decisions in Economics to almost every department at the Institute. Studies focus on one or more of three broad demographics: birth through pK-12, higher education, and workplace learning. If you would like to help support MITili’s efforts you can give here.

Originally published at https://mitili.mit.edu on June 30, 2022.

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