We believe that learning should be treated as a science. Therefore, we constantly study how children learn. We adapt and iterate—based on evidence—to ensure we’re are using the most effective pedagogical approach for every piece of content a child is taught.
As part of this approach, we’ve designed a new platform called the ‘Learning Lab’ where we partner with leading academics and institutions to pilot and assess innovative pedagogical approaches at scale.
What is the learning lab?
In our learning lab we conduct large-scale, randomised A/B testing to compare different approaches to instructional design and academic programming. This is based on our key performance indicator of success—learning gains. Our unique approach here is possible precisely because we support over a thousand schools and hundreds of thousands of pupils. We have the infrastructure and capacity to test and study how to improve learning on the ground in hundreds of classrooms simultaneously. We can help substantiate theories with evidence; or reject a hypothesis—at significant scale.
How does it work?
In our learning lab, we start by studying pupil achievement data and analysing the most significant challenges pupils face. Alternatively, we might collaborate with academic or institutional partners to explore a challenge with which the educational community is grappling. Examples include such challenges as, “pupils are reading with fluency, but are struggling with comprehending” or “pupils struggle with long-term retention of key math concepts.”
Once an issue has been identified we consult, study and reflect on potential solutions to this problem. We rely heavily upon expertise both within and outside of Bridge to understand opportunities to address the question. We draw on the advice of our field researchers and instructional design teams and from existing writings and studies from cognitive scientists and researchers.
Once we have identified the problem to solve and the solution to test, we design a formal A/B evaluation. Schools or classrooms are randomised in to two groups: Group A becomes the control group and continues to receive the existing approach, and Group B receives the newly designed approach.
Always improving by measuring learning
It’s important to note that there is a minimum of 15 hours research and design that goes into each lesson that a child receives at a Bridge-led or Bridge-supported school; so every piece of content and lesson is already carefully designed and structured. The learning lab can be about iterating and improving even further on that content or sometimes about exploring an entirely different approach. Naturally, we make sure that those who are close to taking exams or at other key academic moments are not part of any study if they are likely to be detrimentally impacted by being part of one or the other group.
After the two groups have been taught using the designated differing approaches for several months, we measure the learning gains achieved by both groups of pupils. We then make a strategic decision based on evidence about which approach is most effective based on which approach generated the largest learning gains for pupils; and deploy that approach across all the classrooms we can.
Quality evidence, tested at scale for the global academic community
Of course, it’s not only pupils in Bridge-led or Bridge-supported schools who stand to benefit from this scientific approach. We’re partnering with some of the leading academics in the world to design and implement these studies. These partnerships mean that we benefit from the expertise of researchers and institutions in designing these studies. In addition, our partners are able to test theories at scale and share these outcomes with the wider academic and practitioner communities. In this way, Bridge is not only improving the quality of instruction for our pupils; but potentially driving improvement and innovation for all pupils around the world.
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