The Yidan Prize Foundation has awarded Arizona State University Professor Michelene Chi and University of the People President Shai Reshef the 2023 Yidan Prize, the world’s highest education accolade. The award recognizes their innovative solutions which help learners reach their full potential, by advancing the quality of teaching and learning and breaking down barriers to higher education globally.


Now in its seventh year, the Yidan Prize continues to spotlight changemakers in education research and development, with its open-call nominations and rigorous, independent judging process. As laureates of the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research and the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development, Michelene Chi and Shai Reshef, will join the Yidan Prize Foundation’s global community of education experts. They will each receive a gold medal and HK$30 million (approximately US$3.8 million), half of which is an unrestricted project fund to support the scaling of their work.


“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the 2023 Yidan Prize laureates. By recognizing innovative and transformative research and practices—those that unlock opportunities for learners—we can help create a better world through education,” said Dr Charles CHEN Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize.


Unlocking a brighter future by spotlighting transformative ideas in education


Michelene (Micki) Chi, Regents Professor & Dorothy Bray Endowed Professor of Science and Teaching with Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, has been awarded the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research. A scholar in cognitive science, her widely adopted theory of cognitive engagement, called ICAP (Interactive, Constructive, Active, Passive), has set a benchmark for defining active learning, giving teachers a stronger understanding of how students learn, and how to design lesson plans and activities to better engage them.


“Michelene’s most significant contribution to educational research is a scientific theory of how students learn. She has organized profoundly different approaches to active learning into a simple, yet widely applicable framework—and she’s passionate about ensuring that this theory changes educational practice on the ground,” said Andreas Schleicher, head of the Yidan Prize for Education Research judging panel and Director for the OECD’s Directorate of Education and Skills.


Using the Yidan Prize project funds, Micki plans to strengthen the ICAP framework, to create professional development training modules for K-12 and post-secondary teachers, and to expand the reach of ICAP globally.


Shai Reshef, President and Founder, University of the People, has been awarded the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development. His model of higher education—a US-based, tuition-free, non-profit, accredited, online university reaching over 137,000 students globally—responds to the needs of learners with an innovative, scalable solution.


“The global challenge of access to higher education means that its life-changing impact in terms of opening minds, improving employment and earnings remain out of reach for many. Shai’s model reimagines higher education, opening the doors for those who have previously been excluded,” said Dorothy K. Gordon, head of the Yidan Prize for Education Development judging panel and Board Member of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.


Shai plans to use the Yidan Prize project funds to continue to grow the University of the People and support more students and populations, providing a comprehensive solution to issues of accessibility and affordability in higher education.


Accelerating progress in education to positively change lives and society


The Yidan Prize Foundation is building a global learning community that fosters collaboration between research and practice. Its community continues to grow in both size and influence, strengthening the foundation’s ability to champion partnerships that shape the future of education.


“We’re delighted to welcome Micki and Shai to our global community,” said Edward Ma, Secretary-General of the Yidan Prize Foundation. “Our judges noted the work of this year’s laureates is widely applicable and scalable, reimagining education for the needs of today’s learners.”


This year, the Yidan Prize Awards Presentation Ceremony and the Yidan Prize Summit will be held on December 3 and 4, respectively. The events bring together leading lights in education, public policy, and philanthropy across the world, to celebrate the 2023 laureates and discuss solutions that will lead to significant and enduring advancements in the field of education.


Welcoming ideas from the brightest minds in education


“This year, we were pleased to see a strong focus on equity and diversity in the nominations. Our laureates are ensuring quality education for all through innovative approaches, transforming the way we think about learning,” said Dr Koichiro Matsuura, Chairman of the Yidan Prize Judging Committee and the former Director-General of UNESCO.


The Yidan Prize champions changemakers in education and supports innovative ideas to scale through its project funds. Its independent Judging Committee is made up of two panels, one with a focus on education research, and the other on education development. They carefully, and collectively, assess all nominations against a set of four criteria: that the work is future-oriented, innovative, transformative, and sustainable.


Nominations for the 2024 Yidan Prize are open from October 2023 until 31 March 2024.

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