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Chapter 4: Measure Learning Environments, Not Just Students, to Support Learning and Development

by David Paunesku & Camille A. Farrington - 2020

Background: Young people are more likely to develop into effective learners, productive adults, and engaged citizens when their learning environments afford them certain kinds of experiences. For example, students are more likely to succeed when they experience a sense of belonging in school or experience schoolwork as personally relevant.

Purpose: How can schools systematically ensure they provide every one of their students with the important developmental experiences they need to succeed and thrive? To answer this question, we offer a conceptual framework that integrates insights from empirical literatures in education, psychology, and developmental science; innovations from early warning indicator methods; and our own experiences as researchers working in partnership with practitioners to build more equitable and developmentally supportive learning environments.

Research Design: Integrative Perspective

Recommendations: We posit that schools currently pay a great deal of attention to the results of effective learning (e.g., high test scores), but not nearly enough attention to the causes of effective learning (e.g., assignments that are relevant enough to motivate students). We propose that schools could foster learning and development more systematically and more equitably if they started to measure, not just downstream learning outcomes, but also the upstream developmental experiences that make those outcomes more likely to unfold.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 14, 2020, p. 1-26
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23460, Date Accessed: 9/22/2021 11:22:37 AM

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About the Author
  • David Paunesku
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    DAVID PAUNESKU, Ph.D., is the executive director of PERTS, a center he cofounded at Stanford University. PERTS helps educators apply insights from the psychological sciences to improve students’ educational experiences and outcomes. He coauthored “A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
  • Camille Farrington
    University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
    E-mail Author
    CAMILLE A. FARRINGTON, Ph.D., is a managing director and senior research associate at the UChicago Consortium on School Research. Her work focuses on understanding how learning environments provide opportunities for positive developmental experiences for students and how learning settings shape students’ beliefs, behaviors, performance, and development. She coauthored Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework (University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research).
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