Interdisciplinary Research shaping the Future of Learning

The Future Learning Initiative (FLI) leverages and builds upon our existing strengths in secondary and higher education to develop the world’s leading centre for research in the science of learning and advance ETH’s reputation as the globally leading learning institution.

FLI brings together more than 20 professors from 10 departments with the goal of synergizing existing expertise, while simultaneously accelerating impact through coordinated inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Our goal is to transform the higher education system by:

  1. Understanding the nature of formal and informal learning as a complex phenomenon across multiple, interacting levels: neural, cognitive, embodied, social, and cultural;
  2. Translating research into practice, first at ETH Zurich and then at the gymnasium, by designing cutting-edge applications in domain-specific learning, learning environments & technologies, and learning & data sciences;

The initiative seeks to advance the science of learning through:

  1. one new tenure-track assistant professorship on STEM learning;
  2. a center for engineering education; and
  3. an interdisciplinary set of projects, such as neuro-embodied basis of physics concepts, mixed reality learning environments in medical and bioengineering education, physical spaces and learning, interdisciplinary in life sciences education, embodied learning and gaming, enhancing abstract mathematical cognition, learning of ethics, as well as several longitudinal projects.


CVE Simulation for Differential Diagnosis

Ethics Education

Neural Bases of Physics Learning

Advancing Interdisciplinarity in Life Science Education

Storytelling in Biology Education

Learning of Quantum Chemistry

Embodied Interaction for Mathematics Learning

Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning for Engineering

RoADS: Routes of Academic Development in STEM


Principal Investigator

Manu Kapur


Elsbeth Stern


Christoph Stadtfeld


Christoph Hölscher

FLI Colloquia

To enable robust exchange of ideas, all members of the FLI regularly attend a monthly colloquium, where doctoral students, post-docs as well as visiting scholars present ongoing work of their projects. Regular exchange of this kind is important for developing boundary-crossing projects and a joint scientific identity.

Starting from September 2021, the FLI Colloquia will be part of the ETH course catalogue. Students will be able to attend the FLI Colloquium for 0.5 ECTS credits for each semester. In order to get their credits, students have to either present their research in a 30min talk followed by 15min Q&A or critically evaluate one or more talks in the form of a short essay.

FLI Colloquia take place on the last Fridays of the month from 3.15 – 5.15 pm and are hosted by Prof. Manu Kapur.

During autumn semester, the FLI Colloquia will be held in person, hybrid and online (see table below for more information).

Dates and content:

30th September 2022


Child Gender Differences in Math Achievement and in Attitudes Toward Math
Alex von Bergen, doctoral student at the Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education, ETH Zurich
Portraits of Teachers’ Enactments of Instructionally Informative Assessment Tasks
Prof. Sania Zaidi, Research Assistant Professor at the Learning Sciences Research Institute, UIC

28th October 2022

4.15 – 5pm

LEE E 101 / on Zoom

The Potential of Virtual Reality and Games for Education 
Prof. Johanna Pirker, Visiting professor, Game Technology Center, Department of Computer Science, ETH Zürich

25th November 2022

LEE E 101 / on Zoom

The Neural and Physiological Basis of Learning Mathematics
Cléa Formaz, doctoral student at the Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education, ETH Zurich
Prior Knowledge, Interest, and Engagement: Influences of Cognitive and Affective Factors on Learning Scientific Concepts with Narratives
Samuel Tobler, doctoral student at the Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education, ETH Zurich

16th December 2022

LEE E 101 / on Zoom

Using Motion Capture Technologies to Facilitate Gestures for Mathematics Learning
Prof. Candace Walkington, Associate Professor, Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow, Department of Teaching and Learning, Southern Methodist University
Routes of Academic Development in STEM: A longitudinal investigation
Dr. Victoria Abou Khalil and Dr. Michal Berkowitz Biran, ETH Zurich

Time: 15:15 – 17:00 (s.t.)

Zoom link: will be provided after registration. Please contact Sara May ( for a registration without earning the 0.5 ECTS credits.

More information on the FLI colloquium can be found in the ETH course catalogueIf you have any questions, please contact Sara May.

Group of students in a lecture

Image (ETH Zürich / Alessandro Della Bella)