This case study has been written entirely by Gisou Ravanbaksh- A DP Psychology Teacher and Learning Designer at Beijing City International School (BCIS).

The Background:

As a DP Psychology teacher, I grapple with the challenge of covering a vast curriculum within a limited timeframe. The first year of DP Psychology is particularly structured, offering little flexibility for student exploration. However, a professional development program with Kyle on Agentic Learning sparked my interest in transformative pedagogical approaches, despite the constraints of teaching a DP subject. Specifically, I found inspiration in two key shifts: moving from a content-driven to an inquiry-driven learning process and broadening the audience for student work beyond the teacher’s gaze.


The Implementation:

The Brain Museum project emerged as a means to infuse agentic learning principles into my course curriculum. Students were empowered to select topics related to brain structure and neurotransmission, fostering a sense of ownership over their learning.

Students created a research question sparked by their own curiosity. A broad range of topics were explored, such as: the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the brain, the neurotransmitters that affect happiness, the impact of addictive substances on the brain, and the neuroscience behind why long-term planning is difficult for teens. Teacher guidelines emphasized the development of critical skills such as linking phenomena to psychological theories and substantiating claims with research evidence. Through guided inquiry, students embarked on a journey of exploration on a topic of their own choosing, culminating in the creation of captivating exhibits for the museum.

The Brain Museum was on exhibit in a common area of the school for a week, allowing students and teachers to view it during their free time. On opening day, a live exhibition was held for over an hour to allow classes to come through and have conversations with the exhibitors.


The impact of the Brain Museum project extended beyond the classroom, reshaping both teacher and student perceptions of learning and agency. I discovered that even within a highly structured curriculum, there exists room to cultivate student agency and enhance engagement. Allowing students the freedom to explore topics of personal interest not only fosters essential skills transferable to their DP coursework but also fuels their curiosity and intrinsic motivation.

In the past, I would simply display their posters in the hallway or have students present to a small group in class, but the dynamic interaction with an authentic audience was an integral part of this learning experience. One student shared,  

Explaining my research several times helped me better understand my topic and learn how to effectively summarize it.”

My colleagues praised the level of expertise the students had acquired on their topics, something required for unscripted conversations with inquisitive visitors. Witnessing students present their exhibits to an authentic audience—comprising of peers, teachers, and school leaders— brought me so much joy and underscored the profound impact of choice and agency in shaping their learning journey.

Learn more about BCIS and their Agentic Learning Environments: