The Peter Clark Center for Mind, Brain, and Education bridges research and practice to improve teaching and learning at Breck. Mind, Brain, and Education - or MBE - is a relatively new field of research that exists at the intersection of cognitive science, psychology, and education. We know that students who understand themselves as learners enjoy school more, perform better, and have a growth-mindset about themselves. Ultimately - they become confident learners for life.
ALL Breck students - preschool through grade 12 - benefit from the innovative programs that come from MBE research and science. Raising our youngest learners with concepts like metacognition - thinking about your thinking - and neuroplasticity - your brain is constantly changing - lay the foundation for learning and self-advocacy.
Specifically for grades 7-12, educational experts in the Peter Clark Center developed the Dynamic Learner Profile (DLP) to guide students in describing, reflecting, and acting on who they are and want to be as learners, leveraging their strengths, and identifying strategies to reach their goals. The current DLP prototype is in the form of printed cards, worksheets, shared Google documents, and other printed resource materials. This analog DLP has allowed us to model and test the process, develop curriculum, and explore desired functionalities. In our pilot studies, we found that the use of the DLP allowed students to see their current strengths and weaknesses as dynamic and multi-faceted, and that discovery changed the conversations they had with their teachers and parents.
A digital dynamic learner profile will enable students, faculty, and parents to fully collaborate in supporting young people in learning how they learn. The digital DLP platform will improve accessibility and use, traveling with students across their years at Breck; supporting ongoing student assessment of skills and strategies with real time feedback; and collecting and analyzing data, as well as integration with student information systems.
Especially powerful through transitions such as entering Upper School, the digital DLP will enable students to develop a snapshot of who they are as a learner and to seek input and perspectives from their parents and teachers, to round out their profile. These conversations have begun to transform the tone of conferences and have provided parents with specific language and strategies to better support their learners at home. The dynamic structure of the DLP is anchored in student agency, through which our students hone self-knowledge and advocacy. These insights will also better equip students for the college-application process and arrive at college with confidence and the mindset to guide their next learning journey.
To build the digital DLP, we will partner with a local technology team who will collaborate with the Peter Clark Center through a process of identifying needs, prototyping, and testing. Alongside the digital DLP, we will work with students, educators, and research partners to create feedback systems, to support curriculum innovation, and improve teacher professional development.
We will be collaborating with Dr. Kristin Gagnier of Johns Hopkins University’s Science of Learning Institute on measuring impact, evidence-generating research, and maintaining accountability in relation to current research. Evaluation will include case studies and data analysis across all students, qualitative observations of teacher practices, and surveys of students, parents and teachers.
With E.E. Ford’s grant and matching support from the Breck community, we have an amazing opportunity to continue to catalyze change in the student experience within our school. The impact of our work has the potential to positively affect education on a national level because it will be measurable, scalable, replicable, and user-friendly.