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Education and Institutions for Human Development

HSE University is home to a well-established school for multidisciplinary research in education. At the next stage, the school's background expert and academic potential will be used for attaining a robust position globally in comparative research in education. As a key step in its development strategy in this area, the University will (1) pay special attention to the effects of education, (2) shift focus from the studies of education as a separate field to in-depth research into the ecosystems and institutions for human development, and (3) concentrate on the study of the new digital education environment. 

All studies will be aligned with the following contextual setting:

  • global research frontiers are steadily leaning towards the study of digitalization and digital transformation in education and other social institutions;
  • the growing outreach of formal education, rapid development of cultural industries, media, entertainment and creative industry, virtual communication, as well as proliferation in self-learning are inevitably adding to the complexity of institutions for human development. In research, more attention is now paid to the study of the new environment of childhood and youth conditions. Another related area that is rapidly developing and has high growth potential is the study of parenting as an institution characterized by direct and perhaps most notable impact on the development of skills and competencies in children;
  • as a result of dynamic changes in economic development and on the labour markets, the update cycle for new knowledge, skills and competencies has been constantly shrinking. Furthermore, the requirements to the most basic skills and competencies a modern person must possess are now changing. On account of technological transformation in the production sphere, these skills are shifting towards non-routine analytical tasks and interpersonal communication; 
  • researchers in education are now charged with the task of rethinking the effects of education, including those related to the concept of well-being, which includes social, emotional, and health-related components.

To summarize, this research area will focus on the mismatch between the outcomes of education in terms of knowledge, skills, and competencies (at a personal level), social capital, cultural practices for positive public activity, and values (at a group level) and requirements to life and success in the 21st century, as well as needs related to the social and economic development of the Russian society. At the same time, research agenda will go far beyond issues related to the economic return to education as it should also cover the dynamic structure of the social and cultural returns of education in a broader sense (contributions to strengthening civil institutions, public health, entrepreneurship and innovation, social cohesion, attitudes related to positive social action, etc.)

Educational inequality and poverty, the role of education in the digital transformation of society, and the most essential skills and competencies will become recurring themes for all research projects in this field.

Most Important Subject Areas within This Research Area

Research and development projects related to education will focus on the following subject areas.

The Impact of Institutions for Human Development and Returns to Education

Key research questions: How is the education system related to social and economic development? Why are the returns to education declining? How do contextual characteristics affect this relationship? How can we analyze the contribution of the education system into the social and economic development of countries?

In the mid-term, the University will focus on the following key research projects:

  • underachievement, social, cultural and institutional factors related to educational trajectories, their impact on personal success in life; the role of education in the reproduction of various forms of inequality (social and digital); educational poverty, its resilience and mechanisms for overcoming inequality; increasing accessibility and participation in higher education and ensuring equal educational opportunities across Russia's regions;
  • human capital, labour markets, and economic returns to various forms of education;
  • the production functions of educational institutions and individual "production factors" in a comparative perspective at a national and international level (including efficiency analysis using parametric and non-parametric methods);
  • the contribution of higher education systems to social development (including economic, technological, social, cultural, and civil dimensions);
  • how institutions for human development help shape intergenerational differences.

Developing Psychometrics and Measurement Tools for Learning Outcomes

The University plans to develop new measurement constructs and tools for evaluating various dimensions of educational outcomes that are yet to be officially formalized. This will include assessment tools incorporating psychometric methods for evaluating universal competencies (communication, cooperation, critical thinking, creativity, etc.), entrepreneurial capacity ("agency", "extended agency", transformative action, active independence, etc.), as well as non-cognitive characteristics and personal traits. A special focus will be made on generating Big Data and developing innovative methods for analytics in education.

Factors and Mechanisms Underlying the Most Essential Personal and Collective Learning Outcomes

The University will focus on the development of evidence-based solutions for improving the return to education in the framework of the following research topics:

  • contributions to the development of skills and competencies in different segments of the education system (formal and informal education, on-the-job training, online education, etc.) and other institutions for human development;
  • mechanisms for promoting functional literacy among adults, analyzing the effectiveness of the new mass literacy endeavours (including financial, digital, and medical literacy);
  • international comparative studies of educational attainment factors;
  • research on the psychological well-being of children, parental involvement in education, and programmes for stimulating parental involvement;
  • academic curriculum and relevant principles ensuring that education will prepare students for performing social functions in their adult lives;
  • innovations in education and modern learning technologies.

Transformation of Education Systems

The University will focus on the contextual framework underlying the changes in the ecosystems related to learning, growing up, and human development, including the following research projects:

  • digital transformation in education, the impact of new technologies and learning environments, new institutions for human development;
  • sustainable development and competitive standing of education systems; transformation of segments (in particular, continuing education) and institutions in education (namely, the academic profession); development of sector-oriented segments in higher education, including pedagogical and medical education; transformation of general and higher education in the post-Soviet space (management systems, institutional differentiation, educational institution models, knowledge-producing institutions);
  • childhood and growing-up ecosystems: special aspects of the transition from one educational institution to another, the daily lives of children and teenagers and their well-being, including their presence on the Internet.

The University's research and development projects will rely on the evidence-based approach, thanks to the largest national database of empirical data in education owned by the institution. This data will also be aligned with large-scale cross-country comparative studies. The key tasks at the next stage will include attaining a leading position in terms of development of computational social science approaches applicable to education and aggregating new empirical data about the human development ecosystem (social networks, information systems for recording academic and non-academic activity, etc.)

There is a plan to launch a laboratory for Big Data analysis in the social sector in conjunction with leading Russian universities and international partners. Furthermore, a distributed Big Data hub will be created, primarily in the field of learning analytics. The list of top priority empirical surveys will include launching national student panel surveys, representative monitoring survey among Russian companies, national monitoring study of business activity, monitoring of underachievement and well-being, regional longitudinal studies of early childhood and adolescence using neuropsychological and genetic data, digital longitudinal/ online panel survey for existing monitoring studies, and digital platforms for longitudinal studies (professional trajectories, time budget, lifestyle, etc.) In addition, the University plans to create consortia of educational institutions (universities and secondary schools), where empirical data will be collected and shared. 

The key goal will be to develop new valid tools for assessment of generic skills and competencies for further use in cross-country comparisons. The University plans to become a global leader in the study of return on non-cognitive skills and universal competencies.

Contributions to the Advancement of Education

Education in this subject area will be based on the graduate school model, i.e. a vast majority of Master's and PhD students will be employed at research centres and take part in research projects, while the latest research findings will be incorporated in the Master's programmes curriculum.

The academic process at all Master's programmes in education will be structured in line with the project-based learning concept. By 2024, all full-time Master's students will be involved in projects implemented by research centres or partner organizations. Full-time education will remain a top priority; however, new digital learning technologies will be actively introduced. One of the most essential tasks for the period up until 2030 will be strengthening internationalization at educational programmes and attracting more foreign applicants with adequate academic background, including students from post-Soviet countries.

The University plans to launch several new Master's programmes in partnership with foreign schools and various HSE University’s departments and research institutes, including:

  • the "Learning Science" programme delivered together with the HSE School of Psychology;
  • a joint educational programme "Comparative Education" offered in conjunction with a foreign partner university; 
  • a joint programme in the economics of education in partnership with foreign universities (long-term plan).

Topics related to education studies, human capital, and pedagogical design will be covered within a broader pool of educational programmes, and learners will have an opportunity to take part in educational modules (e.g. on inequality in education, economics of education, human capital formation, etc.) and massive open online courses.

A brand new task at the next stage will be to develop advanced models of Master's programmes tailored for a wide range of specialists in education (researchers, analysts, managers, and teachers) and make them widely known among other Russian universities. This will involve launching joint Master's programmes with leading Russian universities.

The PhD programme in education will be further upgraded, including the introduction of the Master's-PhD track, broadening of the English-taught component and bringing the PhD dissertation topics in line with the priority research areas cultivated by the HSE University’s institutes and centres involved in the studies of education.

Response to the Challenges of Socio-economic Development, Applied R&D

Here, a major emphasis will be made on ensuring positive social effects for a wide range of state bodies, civil society structures and various organizations associated with education. The University will be proposing solutions for state policy and specific tasks laid down in the state strategic documents (including stimulation of labour productivity, overcoming poverty and ensuring social stability, and expedited operationalization of digital technologies in the social sector). The University will open a special centre charged with public policy modelling and effects analysis in the field of digitalization of education based on quasi-experimental methods. The obtained research results will be used for formulating programmes for human capital development in Russia, as well as creating and evaluating tools for the development of key competencies required by large companies.

HSE University plays an important role in promoting the participation of teachers and senior officials of educational institutions in retraining and CPD programmes. 

The University plans to become one of the leaders in terms of development and support of new-generation digital teaching resources and teaching methods based on evidence-based research findings. Additional packages with information solutions will be developed for evaluating learning outcomes, measuring non-cognitive skills and competencies in the interests of regional authorities, educational institutions, students and their parents.

The University also plans to develop a series of applied solutions for improving governance at educational institutions (featuring automated systems for estimating dropout and retention risks for universities, computer-based scoring systems, as well as solutions in educational analytics, etc.) In addition, regional network-based experimental platforms for testing and distributing innovations and solutions produced as part of the programme will be established.