Working with educational interventions for preschool children, Dr. Julia Hermida has been in close contact with school teachers since the beginning of her career. Throughout this time, she has been applying cognitive insights aimed at maximizing the learning process and improving education, with the overarching goal of reducing educational and social inequalities. During the interventions, cognitive processes, such as attention, working memory, and inhibitory control, are trained with the aim of building the blocks needed for a successful learning experience later on in school, such as doing maths or reading. Teachers are an integral part of such activities, as they are the ones who train the pupils using the tasks proposed by the researcher.
Dr. Julia Hermida, 2022 IBRO/IBE-UNESCO Science of Learning Fellow
After experiencing several successful practitioner collaborations, Dr. Hermida has reached the conclusion that to achieve a broader, long-term impact on education, other parties, such as policymakers and governments, need to be engaged in the discussion. Nevertheless, in her opinion, the exchange between different stakeholders is currently not as straightforward as she would hope, due to the need to adapt the message to different audiences.
With the aim of facilitating engagement and scientific exchange among different interested parties in improving the quality of education, IBRO/IBE-UNESCO Science of Learning Fellowships have been supporting senior and mid-career scientists working in the neuroscience of learning field since 2016. Between October and December every year, fellows learn about policymaking and how to better communicate their research to specific audiences. During these three months, which are spent at the IBE-UNESCO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, fellows exchange experiences and share their expertise among themselves and with the director of the program at IBE-UNESCO. It’s a brilliant opportunity to network with people who have similar objectives and are committed to proposing strategies with the common goal of furthering global education. “The experience renewed my motivation! It gave me ideas to improve my interventions but also made me see the strengths and weaknesses of my work. I also met like-minded people, who were aware of the inequalities in the world and were willing to propose an inclusive framework for education that respected the experience of educators and incorporated insights from neuroscience,” says Dr. Hermida.
The fellowship allows researchers to fully dedicate themselves to the program, which is not always possible given other academic obligations. As an output of this immersion and the insightful discussions, each fellow writes six policy briefs on topics of their choice related to neuroscience of education. During the writing process, fellows received feedback from each other, as well as from the program coordinator. Following the fellowships, the policy briefs are made available on the IBE’s Science of learning portal.
When the course happens in person, the fellowship covers the trip-related costs. In 2022, due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellows had a virtual experience and were able to use the fellowships to cover their living expenses. The funding allowed Dr. Hermida to take a break from her job to fully dedicate herself to the program, attend a meeting in Budapest, and visit the lab of another fellow, as well as other potential collaborators. “I think the fellowship will open many doors for me, not only because of the experience but also because of the prestige of the fellowship,” adds the Argentinian scientist.
Join Dr. Julia Hermida: apply for an IBRO/IBE-UNESCO Science of Learning Fellowship. Applications for fellowships taking place between October and December 2023 are open until 28 April 2023. Do you want to hear about the experience of other fellows? Watch their testimonials here.
If you are an IBRO awardee and would like to share your experience, contact IBRO Communications Manager, Carolina Araujo Sousa, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The International Bureau of Education at UNESCO is a global center of excellence in curriculum and related matters. As a leading UNESCO Institute, it is recognized and valued for the specialist knowledge and expertise that it brings to member states promoting new shared global understanding of curriculum issues.