New Roads School is committed to incubating and implementing effective means to enhance learning. Our educational research arm, The Center for Effective Learning (C4EL) spearheads our efforts in this regard, by:

  1. Exploring and participating in current educational research, both on its own and in concert with other educational research entities
  2. Adapting valid research findings to appropriate classroom practices
  3. Developing innovative educational materials for use at New Roads School and throughout the larger educational community

New Roads Participates in UC Berkeley International Research Study

Research Focuses on the Relationship between Emotions and Learning/Success

By Joe Wise

New Roads has completed Year 1 of a 3-year, ground breaking study of how positive qualities like compassion, emotional awareness, and social intelligence develop in children; and how these attributes impact learning and success later in life.  Done in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center under the direction of Dr. Dacher Keltner,  this unqiue global study ultimately will be conducted in approximately one dozen countries around the world.

Remarkably little is known scientifically about how empathy, compassion, and social awareness develop in children.  Dr. Keltner’s research seeks to fill this gap.  Over the course of five days, his research team worked with Elementary and Middle School students not only studying their emotional development and savvy, but also working with the students as “scientists” – explaining the design of their study, the tools they used, and the information they are hoping to obtain. Over the next few months while research team members conduct similar research in Pakistan and India, they will be “Skyping” with our students about their research across the Pacific.

The students who participated in the study this year will continue to take part over the next two years, giving researchers the ability to observe the development of the students’ emotional attributes over time.  We are very pleased to be able to provide our students with this unique opportunity to be scientists themselves, and to learn the critical scientific attribute of patience, as they wait more than three years for the research findings to be complete. 

C4EL: Leading Reform, Research and Innovation

By Joe Wise, C4EL Director and Assistant Head of School for Curriculum and Assessment

New Roads’ Center for Effective Learning has been very busy this year with expanded research and community outreach, and with continuing development and refinement of the Learning Tool - especially with respect to its ability to inform the assessment process. Specifically:

• We were selected from among hundreds of applicants to participate in the Los Angeles Social Venture Partners’ "Fast Pitch" program and made it to the semi-final round with our presentation of the Learning Tool’s innovative educational model.

• We continue to reach out to community partners interested in using the Learning Tool, including several after-school groups, a community arts center, and established charter schools. Currently we are working with Dr. David Dwyer , the Katzman Ernst Chair in Educational Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Innovation at USC, to explore areas of mutual interest. One of the most promising involves the possibility of incorporating the Learning Tool into a new charter school being developed by the USC Rossier School of Education to serve children in the USC area.

• Our ongoing work with perceptual learning modules, featured earlier this year in The New York Times (Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas) will appear this coming year in the UK publication, New Scientist.

• We are collaborating with UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center to further their research, and our knowledge, about the development of emotions in children. The study, for which we have developed targeted curriculum, will begin in late February/early March, with researchers in our classrooms demonstrating equipment to measure heart rate, respiration, and the production of sweat as indicators of both emotional and physical response. The project, which will continue over a three year period, presents students with a unique opportunity to participate in real science, in real time.

• We have embarked on a school-wide project to make student assessment more informative, consistent, and useful across disciplines, grade levels, and divisions. This involves assessing all student learning in accordance with three universal criteria: knowing, doing, and creating meaning. Generally speaking, "knowing" is when a student is able to retain, repeat, and recall information from a text, lecture, or discussion. "Doing" is when a student is able to utilize and/or act upon information in the immediate content area and temporal context. Finally, "creating meaning" is when a student demonstrates mastery of material by utilizing that information in a novel or remote context, thereby indicating that the student has been able to extract general rules or patterns from his/her knowledge base in order to "create meaning".

Under the leadership of its director, Assistant Head of School, Joe Wise, C4EL currently is involved with several educational projects funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and local foundations. These projects bring additional resources, both economic and human, to the New Roads School community and provide unique opportunities for faculty and student enrichment and involvement.

Read more about these special projects

In addition to specific educational projects, including the Spectrum Program, C4EL organizes regular faculty in-service trainings focusing on best practices in pedagogy, effective use of technology, and meaningful student assessment. New Roads faculty is encouraged to further participate by creating and pilot-testing promising new educational techniques such as Calibrated Peer Review, Perceptual Learning Modules, Curricular Stories, and Objectives-Based Learning. These techniques are embedded in the award-winning Learning Tool software developed by C4EL.
Read more about the Learning Tool

Going forward, C4EL will play a primary research role as New Roads develops the Herb Alpert Educational Village in partnership with the New Visions Foundation. Participation in the Village will allow C4EL to further expand its outreach, collaborations, and impact in furtherance of educational excellence. In particular, we look forward in the coming months, to hosting symposiums open to the general public, on issues of broad educational application and concern. For questions and information, please contact Joe Wise.

C4EL Advisory Board

Joseph Wise
C4EL Director and Assistant Head of School for Curriculum
and Assessment New Roads School

Megan Franke, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Education and Information Services
University of California Los Angeles

Joan Herman, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST)
University of California Los Angeles

Connie Kasari, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological Studies in Education School of Education and Information Services
University of California Los Angeles

Phil Kellman, Ph.D.
University of California Los Angeles Human Perceptions
Laboratory Insight Learning Technology

Vandana Thadani, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education Loyola Marymount University

Connie Kasari, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological Studies in Education School of Education and Information Services
University of California Los Angeles