What is a Lab School?

So what exactly is a "Lab School?"

Historically speaking, lab schools are connected to universities and serve three fundamental purposes:

  • Teach every child through experiential learning.
  • Train future teachers on how to create effective learning environments.
  • Guide research and apply "best practices" for student-centered learning.


Teach every child through experiential learning.

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as "learning through reflection or doing." Project Based Learning (PBL) is a form of experiential learning but does not necessarily involve students reflecting on their product as much as valuing the process. Experiential learning is distinctly different from passive learning where students in traditional classroom sit in desks and take notes from lecturers. It is a form of active learning and related to, but not synonymous with, other forms of active learning such as action learning, adventure learning, free-choice learning, cooperative learning, service-learning, and situated learning.


Train future teachers on how to create an effective learning environments.

Research supports cultivating learning environments where students have guided instruction with equal opportunities to experiment and synthesize with new concepts and ideas as they learn. The intellectual and emotional lives of young children develop best in a setting in which teachers, the environment, and the program support play and exploration and the construction of relationships and ideas. It is not enough for children to understand, they must be given the opportunity to integrate new knowledge into their base of experiences. This is accomplished by skilled teacher creating an environment and having a mindset that is conducive to this type of learning.


Guide research and apply "best practices" for student-centered learning.

Evidence-based, student-centered instructional practices provide a strong rationale for applying current research to support and shape instruction. Learner-centered instructional practices promote interaction, engagement, and language acquisition. However, not all practitioners fully understand why these practices are effective or how to best implement them. Labs schools understand the human-centered design process is an iterative one. The more we learn, the more the school adapts and grows, and the more students benefit.


Labs schools set themselves apart by intentionally growing in these three distinctive areas. The major benefit of a lab school is their connection with a university. This type of pedagogy lends itself to sustaining a more active learning environment. This continuous improvement approach lends itself perfectly to university research around identifying best practices that are implemented to create world-class learning opportunities for students.


Developing creative Christ-centered critical thinkers.

Through application of educational research in human-centered design, social emotional learning, and project based learning, the SNU Lab School is becoming increasingly relevant in today's world. Since 1972, our DNA has valued these principles and we are positioned to authentically grow in a direction that will help young people belong and contribute to a world where creative and critical thinkers are needed and valued. SNU Lab School is indeed a school whose time has come. Come join our growing community!