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Cardinal Gibbons Case Study Report

Executive Summary

In Fall 2022, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation partnered with Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, NC to pilot two free online professional development courses for educators. The courses, Foundations of Learner Agency and Learner Agency in Practice, received funding support from the Oak Foundation and were developed by the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative (PLLC) Team at the Friday Institute.

Cardinal Gibbons staff had opportunities to receive professional development as well as hands-on learning opportunities from Friday Institute staff, many of whom are current or former educators. By piloting this program with a subset of teachers, Cardinal Gibbons will expand its Learner Agency professional development to the rest of the school staff in the coming years.

When trying to understand what factors are important to consider during implementation, researchers noted the importance of providing time and space for professional development, including scaffolding for all learners, the specific school environment, the voluntary nature of participating in the pilot professional development, the differences in curricula, and the context of transitioning out of the pandemic.

Analysis of the data also showed three major findings for engaging all learners. These included using physical space to alter classroom dynamics to encourage putting learners on the same level as the teacher, incorporating learner activities that encourage students to pursue their own interests, and implementing more options for choice in classroom work and assignments.

This research was made possible through generous support from Oak Foundation. Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. More information about the Foundation may be found at

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Callie Edwards

Director, Program Evaluation and Education Research


Briana Barrett

Graduate Research Assistant

Duncan Culbreth

Graduate Research Assistant

Stella Jackman-Ryan

Graduate Research Assistant

Sara Stegemoller

Graduate Research Assistant