• Newton's playground

    Newton's playground

    Developed by LEADS researcher Dr. Valerie Shute (Florida State University), Newton's Playground allows children to draw physical objects to solve two-dimensional physics problems. It is used to investigate how games can trigger emotions, and how affective states influence successful learning.

  • Tracer


    Developed by LEADS researcher Dr. Rafael Calvo (University of Sydney), Tracer is an innovative learning analytic tool used to visualize behavioral patterns of students while writing, as a means to measure their degree of engagement.

  • Bioworld


    Developed by LEADS director Dr. Susanne Lajoie (McGill University), Bioworld simulates a hospital simulation environment for students to learn about diseases by diagnosing specific patient cases. It requires students to select and organize evidence for decision-making throughout the case resolution process.

  • Crystal Island

    Crystal Island

    Developed by LEADS researcher Dr. James Lester (North Carolina State University), Crystal Island uses a rich 3D environment to investigate how such learning environments can promote problem solving and engagement in science learning for upper elementary and middle school students.

Learning Environments Across Disciplines (LEADS) is an international research partnership funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant, headed by Professor Susanne P. Lajoie at McGill University. LEADS is devoted to improving learning and engagement in schools, from middle school to university, by bringing together educators, psychologists, computer scientists, engineers, physicians, historians and students across six countries, 19 universities and 14 partner organizations, to conduct cutting-edge research in fostering 21st century skills through the use of innovative forms of technology that span across disciplines and subject-matters (such as cognition, affect, assessment, computational modeling, machine learning, educational data mining, and digital video ethnography).


To design and implement technology-rich learning environments (TREs) that will help improve learning and retention in schools, from middle school to university, and across disciplines, encouraging a more informed citizenship, better job participation, and a healthier society.


  • To more fully engage learners and promote deeper understanding through TREs
  • To design TREs to teach 21st century skills (i.e., problem solving, communication and self-regulated learning) from middle school to university in multiple domains
  • To develop a critical mass of academic, industry and non-profit partnerships to provide diverse perspectives and optimize resources to produce groundbreaking, cutting-edge research
  • To promote a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers and innovators



Theme 1: Cognitively and Socially-Guided Learning

This theme addresses the underlying cognitive and social processes influencing learning, problem solving and decision-making.


Theme 2: Emotional Engagement and Disengagement

Emotions are an integral aspect of students’ learning experiences. Our research program addresses the structures, functions, and antecedents of emotions experienced in various learning environments.


Theme 3: Innovations in the Science of Assessment

New approaches need to be created to capture and analyze different types of evidence that can collected from TREs during learning that serve as learning indicators.