Foundations of Learning Initiative

Children in an India classroom sit in a circle on the floor and play a math learning game.
Photo credit: Sandeep Singh, J-PAL
J-PAL’s Foundations of Learning (FoL) Initiative invites teams of economists and cognitive psychologists to apply for funds to develop and test innovative solutions to improve learning for children in low- and middle-income countries. To be eligible for FOL funds, teams must include at least one economist and at least one cognitive psychologist with the ultimate aim of improving children’s learning. At least one of the team’s PIs must be a J-PAL affiliate or invited researcher and eligible for J-PAL funding. FOL funds can be used for research conducted in an LMIC or for small-scale lab work, often done by psychologists in a controlled setting, in an HIC as long as there are tangible plans to expand this work elsewhere to “in-the-field” randomized evaluations in an LMIC.

The FoL initiative aims to shed light on strategies to improve learning by creating better measurement tools, lab testing pedagogical approaches and field-testing scalable models. By developing a pipeline of interdisciplinary researchers in cognitive sciences, psychology and economics, the initiative fills a key gap that researchers face in conducting foundational research. Interdisciplinary research partnerships are rare in academia but will be critical to further the knowledge base on how to improve pedagogical approaches at scale. Interdisciplinary teams are required to be considered for FOL funds.

The initiative is made possible by support from the Douglas B. Marshall Jr. Family Foundation. It is based at J-PAL Europe and co-chaired by Esther Duflo (MIT) and Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard). J-PAL's Learning for All Initiative (LAI) also awards funding for the FoL initiative.

RFP Status: Aligned with Learning for All Initiative's funding cycles; RFP 3 open on 17 April 2024
Eligibility: J-PAL affiliates, post-doctoral fellows, invited researchers, and regional offices may apply. See RFP materials for full eligibility requirements.
Contact: [email protected]

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