Harvard University is collaborating with UCJC

Camilo José Cela University (UCJC) and Harvard University are engaged in a pioneering global research project on how the design and pedagogy of learning environments (both natural and urban) impact student well-being.

The research, named Learning Outside-In, is part of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which aims to “investigate, understand, and promote the nature, contexts, and conditions under which learning, thinking, ethics, intelligence, and creativity develop in all human beings.” Alongside the Faculty of Education at Camilo José Cela University, Learning Outside-In is the only Spanish research project among the 49 active projects of Project Zero worldwide.

These days, the project’s lead researcher, former director and principal investigator of Project Zero, and professor at this faculty, Daniel Wilson, is visiting the SEK International Schools in Madrid (SEK-Ciudalcampo, SEK-El Castillo, and SEK-Santa Isabel), Galicia (SEK-Atlántico), and Almería (SEK-Alborán) to explore “how learning situated in a real and meaningful context has positive effects on student well-being” and how it is linked to the learning project itself “in four dimensions: curiosity, agency, belonging, and enjoyment.”

For Daniel Wilson, “our goal is to observe and identify unique aspects of these Spanish schools (the SEK Schools) to extract evidence, learn from it, and communicate it to the rest of the world. Many schools are interested in this project to learn.”


Un proyecto de investigación de tres años

Over the next three years, a team of 50 researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the UCJC Faculty of Education will explore learning experiences outside the school environment. UCJC’s Early Childhood and Primary Education students have begun to gather evidence on the connection of younger students with natural and urban environments, the so-called “learning paths,” aiming to determine how this connection influences aspects of children’s personal development such as active attention, experimentation, concentration, freedom, sense of identity, socialization, wonder, observation, exploration, satisfaction, fun, or pride.

Currently, the research group’s task is to adapt the theoretical framework of the investigation, considering the educational model of the schools. According to Carmen Sánchez, Dean of the UCJC Faculty of Education, “this project focuses on how learning in non-school contexts, that is, outside the school environment, can positively impact student learning well-being, avoiding unnecessary frustrations and pressures and fostering their curiosity, motivation, and sense of belonging.”