The Center's research has been equally wide ranging in the domains of learning it has studied. Reading, mathematics, and science, staples of education, have been a continuing focus over much of LRDC's 50 years. However, the Center has also addressed less-studied learning domains (e.g., history, geography, avionics, law), as well as the reasoning and intellectual abilities that serve learning across domains. Social settings for learning, including those outside of schools, teaching effectiveness, and technology for learning are all part of LRDC's research story as well. Understanding learning in its many forms and how it can be enhanced by learning environments, teaching, and learning tools will increase in importance in the coming decades across human societies. LRDC aims to continue to play a significant role in innovative research and development that furthers such understanding.
The Founding of LRDC
The Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) sprang from a proposal written by founding director Robert Glaser and University administrator J. Steele Gowe in 1963. Their idea, as expressed in the opening sentence of the proposal was to establish a Center that stimulated interaction between educational practice and scientific knowledge: "The problem area on which this Center focuses its attention is that of expediting fruitful interaction between learning research in the behavioral sciences and instructional practice in the schools." The videos here give an overview of the Center's founding and first 50 years:
LRDC 50th Anniversary Report
The LRDC 50th Anniversary Report celebrates the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center's (LRDC) 50 years as a leading interdisciplinary center for research on learning and education. It provide glimpses of LRDC over the years and highlight some of the exciting work that occupies our current research and development agenda. The Center's interconnected programs of research and development have reflected its mission of stimulating interaction between research and practice across a broad spectrum of problems, from the neural basis of learning to the development of intelligent tutors to educational policy. Among research institutions in learning and education, this interconnected breadth is unique.
The Center celebrated its 50 year history with a Gala dinner at Phipps Conservatory. View the 50 year history Gala dinner photo album.
The Iconic Building
"The architectural prima donna on O'Hara Street today is not one of the old buildings but an escalator-like structure that houses the Learning Research and Development Center ... The 1970s buildings is shaped like a giant staircase against the hillside because it was meant to act like one: the bare patch still visible on the right side of the lobby was designed to carry a huge escalator to hoist students up to the proposed dormitory complex above" (pg. 337), stated author Franklin Toker in his 1989 Pittsburgh A New Portrait (1989).
Since LRDC's founding in the mid-1960s, its research has reflected several broad themes, including the nature of human learning, knowledge, skill, and expertise across domains; the features of effective teaching and instructional environments; and he development of educational materials and technology hat support learning. Many of the scholars who studied these areas were pioneers in their fields. In the section below, we honor them.