The University of Cambridge is serious about studying the effects of play on learning.
With help from the Lego Foundation, the university is searching for its first “professor of play” to lead its new Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development, and Learning—or Pedal for short.
“The value of play is relatively under-researched,” Professor Anna Vignoles, the interim director of Pedal and a member of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education, told The Guardian. “The aim of the Pedal centre is to conduct rigorous research into the importance of play and how playful learning can be used to improve students’ outcomes.”
The university is looking to hire someone who has experience in educational psychology and is “playful, extremely curious, open-minded, imaginative, and creative,” according to Bo Stjerne Thomsen, the global head of research for the Lego Foundation.
“[The] skills you need now as an adult are collaboration, problem solving, and coming up with ideas,” Thomsen said. “In that sense, play is critical. You use your imagination to plan things, to predict outcomes, to understand how to solve a problem by looking at it from different perspectives.”
Pedal is working on one project that looks at outdoor play using GPS technology as a way to better understand how children interact in a playground situation, as well as how they congregate in groups.
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