Chan Zuckerberg Initiative funds research at UArizona

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University of Arizona's research on of asset-based dialogic teaching receives funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

By U2B Staff 

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The University of Arizona College of Education and the Tucson Unified School District received a $650,000 grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to research the impact of asset-based dialogic teaching on student outcomes such as curiosity and self-direction.

This research, led by the University of Arizona faculty member Francesca López, along with TUSD administrators Norma González and Lorenzo López will be centered at Tucson Magnet, Cholla, and Pueblo High Schools.

Associate dean and professor at the university, Francesca López said that asset-based dialogic teaching engages with students’ prior knowledge and experiences through collaborative learning.

This method involves teachers posing critical problems that encourage inquiry-based learning. Teachers are encouraged to reflect upon students’ responses and to engage them in conversation – all of which encourage and develop curiosity and self-direction.

Through this method, teachers develop engaging learning tasks that will nurture curiosity and self-direction in students.  This method fundamentally builds on adolescents’ assets while integrating social, emotional and cognitive skills.

Lopez added that this funding will allow researchers to understand the impact of asset-based dialogic teaching on student outcomes. Researchers hope that these efforts will help them understand how they can transform teaching practices in ways that will elevate students’ opportunities.

She stated that this method of teaching is most suitable for adolescents, as they are most likely to be in the midst of identity exploration and are also developmentally capable of engaging in high-level analysis and debate.


Head of education for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sandra Liu Huang said that unlocking the power of advanced educational research depends on not only sharing with educators but learning from, validating and valuing their experiences and insights.

Huang also added that the foundation, founded by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015 is excited to support these collaborations between educators and researchers to advance whole child-focused school practices and help improve student outcomes.

The initiative’s education work is focused on ensuring every young person enters adulthood with the skills and abilities they need to reach their full potential.

It also provides support to teachers, ensuring they are equipped with the mindsets, tools, and practices they need to support their students’ learning and development.


The funding awarded to the University in Arizona and TUSD is one of nine grants from total funding of $5.45 million. The funding is awarded to researchers working to improve school practices by applying the science of learning and development.

Commenting on the funding, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s director of whole child development said, “We’re excited to support the work of these teams to expand the definition of student success beyond academics by translating the science of learning and development into exemplary, replicable practices.

“The University of Arizona College of Education and Tucson Unified School District have demonstrated the potential to not only improve student outcomes locally but to inform their peers and the broader education field,” she added.