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Learning Research and Development Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Harrison & Abramovitz designed LRDC building.
The Harrison & Abramovitz designed LRDC building.

The Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh is an interdisciplinary center focused on describing, understanding, improving, and researching various aspects of human cognition and learning in order to improve and reform instruction and training in schools, the workplace, and informal environments. Co-founded in 1963 by Robert Glaser and J. Steele Gow,[1] it was among the first such centers in the world focusing on field of fundamental learning studies,[2] and was selected for a program of the Cooperative Research Branch of the United States Office of Education as the first such center to provide a major concentration of effort in psychologically oriented education.[3] Early funding support in 1968-1969 came by way of a $5.6 million grant ($40.3 million today) from the U.S. Office of Education for facilities and a $1.2 million grant ($8.6 million today) for program expansion from the National Science Foundation.[4][5]

Currently composed of 26 faculty from across the departments and schools at the university, the center focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to research. Among the faculty are education researchers, cognitive scientists, computer scientists, developmental and social psychologists, psycholinguists, evaluation and measurement specialists, organizational behavior researchers, and education policy analysts. A supporting research staff of over 150 research associates, as well as post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students, contribute to research undertaken at the LRDC. The Director of the LRDC is Charles Perfetti who succeeded Lauren Resnick who served as LRDC director from 1977 through 2008.[6][7]

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What a child experiences during the first years of their life has a lasting impact on the development of their brain. While genes set the roadmap, experiences create the neural connection inside the brain that sets the foundations of our emotions, language, motor skills, vision, and memories. If one region gets additional stimulation, the neural pathways within that area and the connections to other areas grow stronger. This process is called synaptic pruning. You can also imagine your brain as a planet. There is Motor Skill Metropolis, Memory Mountain and Vision Village. Through the years, popular cities grow bigger and links between them get larger. Now if one area was never developed, there can be traffic jams. This then slows down the development of the entire brain. Some neurotransmitters will be tired getting to work. Others will take short cuts and get lost. Betty Hart and Todd Risley studied children’s exposure to language. On average children from families on welfare were exposed to about 600 words per hour. Kids from rich families got about 2,000. By the age of 3, the gap becomes 30 million words. But it didn’t end there. Children from privileged families received much more positive feedback. For every 6 words of praise, there was only one word of discouragement. Welfare kids however, heard twice as much discouragements than praise. This could make a difference that lasts a lifetime. In a study that began in 1963, psychologist David Weikart and his team randomly divided 123 underprivileged kids into two groups. One group spent two years at a top preschool with excellent teachers. They made art, discussed problems, and received a lot attention, respect and love. For the other, life went on as usual. Often without much attention from anyone 40 years later the Highscope Perry Preschool Study was published. At age five, 67% of the children in the top preschool group had an IQ of over 90, they were school-ready. Of the others, only 28% achieved that. At fourteen there was a big difference in basic classroom achievements. At twenty-seven the top preschool group were more likely to own their own home. And at age forty they earned more money and were less likely to ever be sentenced to jail. The researchers concluded that the two years at preschool nourished the children not only intellectually but also gave them social skills, courage and perseverance. This combination of character strength, also called Grit, was later responsible for their success in life. The 15,000 dollars invested in putting those kids into preschool, later benefited the entire society, mainly through a reduction in crime. The total return of investment was estimated to be at a 195,000 dollars. In 2006 Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman published what became known as the Heckman Curve. It shows the return of investments in education, which is the highest in the early years. Governments have since started to act. In Germany parents get a lot of financial support to raise their kids. In Japan, mothers or fathers can take a full year of paid leave. In France, all children go to Kindergarten free of charge. If you happen to be in charge, know that with every extra minute you spend encouraging and talking to that little troublemaker, you might be doing him a favour for life. According to the University of Michigan: "regular family dinners are a stronger predictor of good grades than doing homework."


Centers within LRDC

The LRDC hosts a number of research centers


Funded in part from a $5.6 million grant awarded in 1969 from the U.S. Office of Education, the $7 million ($43.3 million today) nine-story building was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz.[8] Winner of several architectural awards,[9] the unique building slopes at a 45 degree angle along an upper campus hillside. Opened in 1974, it contains offices, experimental classrooms, teaching labs, demonstration areas, and lecture areas with advanced audiovisual and computer equipment.[8]

See also


  1. ^ LaRussa, Tony (2012-02-07). "Oakland professor shined light on education". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2012-02-08.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Steele, Bruce (2006-05-30). "An Academic Giant in Our Midst". Pitt Chronicle. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  3. ^ Glaser, Robert; Gow Jr., J. Steele (November 1964). "The learning research and development center at the University of Pittsburgh". American Psychologist. American Psychological Association. 19 (11): 854–858. doi:10.1037/h0043111. ISSN 0003-066X.
  4. ^ Alberts, Robert C. (1986). ""The Creative Eye"". Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787-1987. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 374–375. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  5. ^ "U. S. Will Give Pitt 5 Million for Center". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill. 1964-03-25. p. B11. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  6. ^ White, Patricia Lomando (2007-07-09). "Resnick to Step Down as LRDC Director in 2008". Pitt Chronicle. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  7. ^ Leff, Amanda (2008-06-23). "Charles Perfetti Appointed Director of the University's LRDC". Pitt Chronicle. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  8. ^ a b Alberts, Robert C. (1986). "1976: The Turning Point". Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787-1987. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 403–404. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  9. ^ "Tour of Campus: Learning Research and Development Center". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2008-08-22.

External links

Preceded by
Chevron Science Center
University of Pittsburgh Buildings
Learning Research and Development Center

Constructed: 1974
Succeeded by
Barco Law Building
This page was last edited on 15 July 2019, at 21:40
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