2023 Jacobs Foundation Conference

The 2023 conference took place from May 10 – 13, in Cascais, Portugal. The organisers were Inge Molenaar (Radboud University) and Dan Schwartz (Stanford University).

The conference topic was on Adaptive Learning in a Changing World: Preparing learners with the skills to thrive across contexts and time. How to measure and foster such skills.

What students learn in school should be useful in other contexts within and beyond school, even as knowledge, jobs, and opportunities change throughout life. Yet, the bulk of school-based instruction focuses on success in the immediate classroom context and uses retrospective assessments of mastery rather than adaptiveness to new situations. To develop a science that helps foster learners who thrive across contexts, it will be important to understand which kinds of knowledge, strategies, and dispositions prepare students for future learning, and in which contexts they can be useful.  For instance, learning strategies that emphasize persistence may be very useful in some contexts, but fatal in others. With new state-of-the-art methodologies, we can increase our abilities to characterize different contexts and the strategies likely to prepare students to learn in those contexts, as well as design, deliver, and measure the success of new forms of instruction that emphasize adaptive, future-ready learners. 

This convening was a fresh kind of intellectual enterprise. It is not a conference of new papers.  It is a conference of transformative ideas.  While individual sessions focused on key issues of current research, the emphasis was on considerable open discussion.  Presenters were asked to use the body of research as a catalyst for discussion of where research should go.  Commentators pushed ideas of the development even farther.