ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan School of Education is establishing a new center following a $14.7 million donation from alumna Eileen Lappin Weiser.
University officials said the Eileen Lappin Weiser Learning Sciences Center will “make learning accessible to all youth” and disrupt schooling norms in favor of methods that develop lifelong learners adept at critical thinking.”
“Today’s schools struggle to adapt to their learners’ needs,” Lappin Weiser said. “Far too many of our children and youth are falling through the cracks. Every child deserves the chance to learn and prepare well for life. We already know effective educational practices that can change a child’s education, and we find more every year. It’s time to help schools, teachers and students do things differently.”
Her gift is the largest commitment in the School of Education’s 100-year history, according to U of M.
The goal of the new center is to strengthen connections between research and practice by studying how learning happens. That includes designing and testing curricula for diverse learners, collaborating to promote evidence-based practices and making successful education solutions available to all learners.
Some studies show that classroom learning feels unhelpful to many students because they’re disconnected from reality. Project-based learning is often more effective, according to those studies. But those types of child- and youth-centered learning experiences aren’t available in most schools, U of M says.
“We know how to organize and enact project- and place-based learning opportunities to help children and youth become problem-solvers who recognize the purpose of their learning,” said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the U-M School of Education. “With the resources of The Eileen Lappin Weiser Learning Sciences Center, U-M can move findings of cutting-edge research into the hands of teachers, school leaders and policymakers.”
Lappin Weiser has served on Michigan’s State Board of Education, the National Assessment Governing Board, the Presidential Scholars Commission, the board of the Michigan Science Center, the Education Commission of the States and the 21st Century Education Commission
She is also on U of M’s Education Dean’s Advisory Council and University Musical Society National Council