Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Rene Kizilcec

Cornell University

Research Focus

Rene Kizilcec’s research is on the design and impact of technology in education with a focus on equity and inclusion. He combines behavioral, psychological, and data science approaches to understand how students and teachers use technology and how they are affected by it. He conducts large-scale randomized experiments in online learning to test strategies that can support students achieve their learning goals by enhancing their ability to self-regulate, sense of belonging, and trust in the technology. This research advances theory and practice in education by identifying individual and contextual factors that enable student success in authentic learning environments.

My plans for the fellowship period

During my fellowship, I will advance our understanding of how to implement effective and affordable hybrid learning in low-resource and international contexts. In the United States, many students already use learning applications during class (e.g., Code.org to learn to code), for homework (e.g., ASSISTments for math problems), and for independent study at home (e.g., KhanAcademy). This type of hybrid learning provides students with immediate feedback and more tailored instruction. It also provides teachers with valuable feedback on student progress and struggles, and it frees up time that they would have spent grading manually. The use of hybrid learning is expanding globally, but its potential for promoting learning and development is most pronounced in low-resource contexts, where it is often easier to purchase devices and educational technologies than find additional qualified teachers to hire, and where disruptions of formal schooling are frequent. Thus, building on my prior work with several learning technology platforms, I will conduct research on how secondary school students and teachers can use hybrid learning effectively in low-resource contexts to support student learning, which will provide valuable insights into how to design and implement educational technologies in these contexts to enhance student learning and support teachers with instructional practice.

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

The use of hybrid learning is expanding quickly, and it has the potential to relieve and empower teachers and better support their students, especially in low-resource contexts where qualified teachers experience burnout due to increasing demands and class sizes. However, we do not know enough about how to effectively design, implement, and communicate about hybrid learning to ensure positive results. During my fellowship, I will generate new insights into the effective design and implementation of educational technologies for hybrid learning in low-resource and international contexts. These insights can change the lives of school children and youth because their developmental, academic, and career pathways can be significantly influenced, for better or worse, by new hybrid learning tools and practices that they are exposed to.