About Science of Learning Strategic Research Theme (SoL-SRT)
Vision and Mission of the Theme
To further build on the rich research expertise in learning research across the University coming from diverse paradigms and perspectives of learning to advance the field of Learning Sciences by constructing multilevel models/theories of learning that build on the current understanding of and methodologies used for diverse aspects of learning (such as neural physiological, functional, cognitive and socio-affective aspects of language learning) through multidisciplinary research teams.
To contribute to advances in learning-related policy and practice that are grounded on the more nuanced understanding of learning as a complex phenomenon developed through the envisioned new programs of research.
The SoL-SRT was established in 2008 to provide a platform to bring together the diverse efforts of research into the sciences of learning across the university to form a collaborative cross-disciplinary community of researchers, pooling their knowledge to advance the frontiers of our understanding about human learning. In this process, new areas of research were developed and our research capacity and international standing in the field have been enhanced.
In this second phase of the SoL-SRT, the vision is to further build on the rich research expertise in learning research across the University coming from diverse paradigms and perspectives of learning to advance the field of Learning Sciences by constructing multilevel models/theories of learning that build on the current understanding of and methodologies used for diverse aspects of learning (such as neural physiological, functional, cognitive and socio-affective aspects of language learning) through multidisciplinary research teams.
Our mission is to contribute to advances in learning-related policy and practice that are grounded on the more nuanced understanding of learning as a complex phenomena developed through the envisioned new programs of research.
In bringing researchers together from different fields to achieve the above overarching vision and mission, the SoL-SRT aims to enable HKU to be the leading university in Hong Kong and China, conducting research on the sciences of learning, developing regional leadership and international recognition. The theme has already served as the initial catalyst for researchers to share information and enter into academic dialogue; initiate and undertake substantial and significant collaborative research; respond to issues of learning locally, nationally and internationally; and explore the implications of the collaborative activity for advancing learning in a wide range of educational contexts and beyond.
Focus of the Theme
Developing focused, multilevel, multidisciplinary research programs to support theory building and evidence-based policy and practice related to learning, building on our strengths in learning research across the University.
Learning lies at the core of all aspects of human performance. Learning transcends educational institutions and underpins a large part of human activities, as individuals, in teams, organizations and communities. Therefore, understanding of human learning should bring about essential implications on human lives. However, it is only in recent years that people have recognized the significance of learning as an area of research, and that various efforts around research on learning have been integrated to form what is now called “learning sciences”, an emerging field of scientific inquiry (Bransford, Brown & Cocking How people learn; 1999; Sawyer, Cambridge Handbook of Learning Sciences, 2006). The Strategic Research Theme (SRT) on Sciences of Learning was initially established in 2008 to provide a platform across the University for research and innovation on human learning. This theme has brought together diverse expertise of colleagues across Faculties with an interest in examining theories, designs and practices for understanding and improving human learning. This theme is broad in encompassing diverse theoretical paradigms, perspectives and domains of inquiry.
In the first phase of the SoL-SRT, much has been achieved in terms of stimulating cross-fertilization of ideas and fostering collaboration among colleagues working in different disciplinary areas to tackle new problems (e.g. oral health literacy) or existing problems in new ways (e.g. application of implicit motor learning paradigm in motor speech disorders). To reap greater benefits from such cross-disciplinary collaboration, in this second phase of the SRT, we seek to enhance the outcomes and impact of our research through establishing an overall inter-disciplinary research focus with three subthemes that relate to the major challenges being tackled in the field of Learning Sciences and builds on our existing multidisciplinary strengths.
By multilevel, this refers to integrating the complementary levels of inquiry that focus on learning normally represented by different disciplinary approaches:
- Neural level of learning in different functional areas related to learning;
- Cognitive and metacognitive aspects of learning at the individual level;
- Socio-cognitive, socio-metacognitive, socio-cultural, interactional and behavioural aspects of learning at the group level;
- Learning at organizational and community levels for more effective functioning and change leadership.
The SRT will organize activities and infrastructures (human and informational) to stimulate and support research that seek breakthroughs in our understanding of learning and/or learning interventions through multidisciplinary collaboration/innovation that connect our knowledge base about learning at different levels. We aim to foster research projects/programs that build on the research strength in different disciplinary fields to advance theory and practice of learning related to the subthemes identified through advances in research methods, tools and linking data archives and analyses that could not be achieved without concerted multidisciplinary efforts and approaches.