Exploring cutting edge problems in education

September 28, 2021

Daniel Ansari, professor in department of Psychology and the Faculty of Education

Western graduate students will have more opportunities to be part of an international, interdisciplinary research group focused on developing digital learning technologies for children.

The Jacobs Foundation has awarded a five-year, nearly $11-million grant to support the creation of the Connecting the EdTech Research EcoSystem (CERES) network. CERES will bring together global leaders in computer science, psychology, neuroscience, education and educational technology in pursuit of this goal.

CERES will be based at the University of California, Irvine, and will include researchers from Carnegie Mellon University; the University of California, Berkeley; Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education; the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences; the University of Cambridge; and the University of Washington. The project also includes Western’s Daniel Ansari, Professor in the Faculty of Education, and the Department of Psychology who is a primary investigator on the project.

“The grant will allow graduate students to be part of an interdisciplinary network of scholars (CERES) to explore cutting edge problems in education such as the optimal use of ed-tech, connect with companies that are at the forefront of ed tech,” said Ansari.

Being part of the CERES network represents a valuable opportunity to translate basic neuroscience research into real-world applications,” said Aymee Alvarez, a PhD student in the department of Psychology. “By working alongside expert in academia and technology, I hope my research can contribute to the development of accessible, science-based educational resources for future generations.”

Professor Candice Odgers, who Co-leads CERES at the University of California, Irvine with Vice Provost Gillian Hayes, described Professor Ansari as a critical addition to the global network of scientists.

“Professor Ansari is one of the leading authorities in the world on how children learn early numerical and math skills. We are fortunate to welcome Ansari to the CERES network and to learn what is possible when his team is directly connected to world-class computer scientists and those building educational technologies for children.”

Professor Ansari is also leading a project with Odgers supported by the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research that is documenting the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and teachers’ educational experiences. This work will position the team to identify students who may require additional support around early mathematics and reading, both online and offline, as they begin to re-enter physical classrooms.

Ansari, who is Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning as well as Director of the Centre for the Science of Learning, previously received a Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship to develop tools to screen numeracy skills in children who are 4- to 5-years-old.