“Developmental Psychology is the science of the strange behavior of children in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest possible periods of time.”
— Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner

There is a gap between research on children's learning and development and educational practices in schools. Research on children's learning and development often takes place in laboratories that have little resemblance to the classroom, in situations that rarely occur in the real world, thereby generating findings with limited practical relevance. On the other hand, classroom practice is often based on tradition or ideology rather than evidence of what works.

To bridge this gap, John Dewey called for laboratory schools that serve a similar role in education as teaching hospitals serve in medicine. In his vision, laboratory schools would be both a school for children and a place for researchers and practitioners to collaborate on carrying out research in vivo

Inspired by this vision, Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty members Dr. Christina Hinton and Dr. Kurt Fischer started the research schools initiative to bridge the gap between research and practice in education by partnering with schools directly to carry out collaborative research. 

In 2012, Dr. Christina Hinton founded Research Schools International (RSI) as an independent organization that partners researchers with schools around the globe to carry out research, professional development, and dissemination of findings. RSI collaborates with our school partners to carry out research that is directly relevant to practice. Our research supports students' learning and well-being, with a special focus on empathy, compassion, global understanding, growth mindset, happiness, mindfulness, and motivation. Read more about our research projects on each of these topics! In addition to carrying out collaborative, school-based research, we lead professional development to support teachers in our partner schools to use research findings to inform their practice. Finally, we freely disseminate our research findings and research-based innovations to the broader education community so that schools beyond our network can benefit from our collaborative work as well. To learn more about our work, watch our 3-minute overview video or read this Harvard Ed. Magazine article