Baylor Civics Engagement Camp Offers Multi-faceted Learning

  • iEngage 1
    Students interact at last year's iEngage Summer Civics Institute.
  • iEnage 2
    Students work in a Baylor computer lab during iEngage last year.
  • iEngage 3
    An iEngage instructor addresses the campers during an activity.
July 29, 2015

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Media contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (July 29, 2015) – More than 120 fifth- through ninth-graders are learning about civics and providing a rich resource for Baylor faculty research during the annual Baylor University iEngage Summer Civics Institute. Running from Aug. 3-7, the camp is hosted by Baylor School of Education through a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

iEngage is directed by education faculty members and camp co-founders Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. Their work began with research and implementation of iCivics in Midway and Waco Independent School Districts. iCivics is a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that teaches civics concepts using educational games

In awarding a 2015 grant to iCivics, the MacArthur Foundation noted, “Civic education in America is scarce and uneven despite the need for an engaged citizenry. Cuts in funding, assessment, and graduation requirements related to civics education leave students uninformed about the basic rights and duties of citizenship.”

“Baylor’s iEngage Camp focuses on reversing the demise of civic education by offering opportunities to learn civic knowledge through new formats, but also by giving youth a chance to engage in community improvement,” LeCompte said. “We hope to increase civic participation in these young people both immediately and as they grow into adults.”

Blevins and LeCompte conduct pre- and post-surveys of each camper to monitor how their civics knowledge, skills and dispositions increase as a result of participation in the “action civics” experience. Through “action civics” students do and behave as citizens by engaging in a cycle of research, action and reflection about problems they care about personally.

During camp, students learn about issues in the local community and then develop an advocacy project concerning one issue.

“The students learn what it means to be an engaged and active citizen,” Blevins said. “They are recognizing ways that they can have a voice and be advocates for change in their community.”

Published articles about the faculty pair’s ongoing work in civics education have appeared in academic journals including Social Studies and the Young Learner, Journal of Social Studies Research, and The Social Studies.

iEngage will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 3 through Aug. 7, in Baylor University’s Marrs McLean Science Building, 1214 S. 4th St. The camp is free, and students receive T-shirts and a lunch through the Sumners grant.

Staffers at the camp include Waco area teachers, undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Education, who gain valuable instructional experience, LeCompte said.

“In an era when civics education is rarely taught in elementary schools, iEngage provides pre-service teachers and in-service teachers an opportunity to not only learn about powerful civics education curriculum, but to actually put it into practice with students. We hope the experience will increase their focus on citizenship education in their own classrooms,” Blevins said.

Highlights of the week’s schedule:

Monday, features a Community Issues Fair with Meals on Wheels, Friends for Life, Animal Birth Control, Fuzzy Friends, Mission Waco, Waco Housing, Campus Kitchens, Texas Hunger Initiative, Waco Wetlands, Waco Sanitation, Caritas, Waco Health Services, Waco Police Department, and Baylor DPS.

Tuesday, Waco City Manager Dale Fissler will visit from 9:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in Marrs McLean Science, Room 101.

Wednesday, campers with spend the afternoon at the Baylor Law School, with presentations by area lawyers and by Judge Rex Davis and Waco City Council member Dillon Meek.

Thursday, Waco City Council member Wilbert Austin will visit at 9:10 a.m. in Marrs McLean Science, Room 101.

Friday, City Council Member John Kinnard will speak at 9:10 in Marrs McLean Science, Room 101. Students will also present their advocacy projects from 3 p.m. to4:30 p.m. in the lobby areas of Marrs McLean Science. During this time, students will be available for interviews by the media about their projects.

On Friday, student blogs will be available at http://blogs.baylor.edu/iengage under the “Student Projects” tab.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The School prepares leaders beginning in undergraduate programs, continuing through master’s-level work and culminating in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs; impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning and community-focused research in local and global contexts; and shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

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