Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Alex Eble

Teachers College, Columbia University

Research Focus

Alex Eble’s research aims to expand human capability, particularly in children. His work to date focuses on two core areas. In the first research area, he works to understand how children form beliefs about their own ability, and how this affects their development into adulthood. In the second research area, he works to identify, evaluate, and study the scalability and generalizability of potentially high-leverage policy options to raise learning levels in low-income and very low-income countries.

His work draws on insights from fieldwork and experience as a development practitioner in China, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and India.

My plans for the fellowship period

During my fellowship, I will push forward on three main goals. First, I will conduct long-term follow-ups to my work studying the impact of bundled interventions on early-grade learning in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau. Initial plans for this work were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resources from the fellowship will allow me to restart this and, I hope, complete the first round of follow-up. Second, I hope to launch new research advancing my study of identity and beliefs in shaping educational trajectories, incorporating the role of curricular content into our understanding of these relationships, and then bringing these lessons to bear on education policy and practice in developing countries.

Third, I hope to begin a new collaboration with one or more of the many brilliant scholars that the Jacobs Foundation brings together via the fellowship program. I am eager to learn from and collaborate with scholars in fields such as psychology and pedagogy to generate even better tools for raising learning levels in the places that need these gains most. I can think of no better group among which to find these collaborators than the community of Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship recipients.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?

I hope that the work I will complete during my fellowship will change the lives of youth, particularly those living in low-income contexts, through three main pathways. First, I will document the extent to which the large intervention-driven learning gains reaped early in childhood by children in rural Gambia and Guinea Bissau persist or fade out five years after the interventions concluded. This will help inform policy in these and other very low-income countries about how best to help children learn and succeed.

Second, I will study how and when curricular content can be modified to help accelerate the learning trajectories of children, particularly those in historically marginalized or excluded groups. This, I hope, will help shape curricular design and policy regulating curricular content. Finally, a huge draw of the Jacobs Fellowship is the extraordinary community of scholars it brings together across many fields. These scholars share my goal of helping children reach their full potential. During the fellowship period I will partner with one or more of these scholars to develop new interventions to accelerate the early-grade learning of children in very low-income contexts.