BRIC-Based Education Collaboration to Study Innovative Classroom Furnishings at Local School

  • Spring Valley Elementary classroom
    Classroom with new learning arrangement at Spring Valley Elementary School in Hewitt, Texas. (Courtesy photo, Midway ISD)
  • Spring Valley Elementary classroom2
    Classroom with new learning arrangement at Spring Valley Elementary School in Hewitt, Texas. (Courtesy photo, Midway ISD)
  • Spring Valley Elementary classroom before
    "Before" look at a traditional classroom configuration at Spring Valley Elementary School in Hewitt, Texas. (Courtesy photo, Midway ISD)
Jan. 24, 2017

Midway ISD elementary school to host semester-long pilot program to assess concept that increases flexibility in classroom learning spaces

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
Follow Lori on Twitter at @LoriBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Jan. 24, 2017) – Spring Valley Elementary School in Hewitt, Texas, will soon introduce students to a unique, newly developed learning space arrangement that researchers hope will enhance learning by facilitating quick reconfiguration of seating and work surfaces.

The pilot program – known as the Student Engagement Research Project – follows an initial two-year planning, experimentation and evaluation phase during which researchers selected and verified the methods needed to perform a study of this kind. That phase was conducted at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) by Education Service Center Region 12 and Huckabee, the Fort Worth-based architecture and design firm that developed the furnishings, using input from area teachers who participated in the project. The Baylor School of Education and the education research group of the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER) compiled and evaluated data resulting from the initial phase.

“This pilot program represents the ‘first fruits’ of the BRIC’s education research outreach,” said Truell W. Hyde, Ph.D., vice provost for research at Baylor and CASPER director. “When we envisioned the BRIC over a decade ago, research in education, especially in the scientific and technical fields, was a primary driver. Those of us at the BRIC and in the Baylor School of Education are grateful and excited to join ESC Region 12, Huckabee and Midway ISD in working to see how this innovative concept might improve student performance.”

Huckabee Chief Executive Officer Chris Huckabee gives Midway’s faculty and administration the lion’s share of the credit for the ideas behind the project.

“The concept for the pilot study was driven by Midway ISD’s educators,” Huckabee said. “They’re doing great things in the district and at the elementary level, and wanted to validate the work they started around student engagement and flexibility. Huckabee’s existing research partnership with Baylor University and ESC Region 12, combined with our 16-year relationship with Midway ISD, gave us the opportunity to help MISD dive into the data. The results will impact learning at all levels, in Midway and for educators across the state.”

Data from the initial phase revealed a statistically significant difference in engagement and other measures of student performance when classes were taught in the new flexible learning spaces versus their conventional on-campus classrooms. This finding helped build researchers’ confidence that their methods were valid. As in most research, however, a laboratory cannot adequately represent the setting in which an innovative product or process ultimately will be used. That makes real-world application necessary for a more comprehensive assessment, which is where Midway’s and Spring Valley’s participation becomes key.

“We see this research project as an opportunity to improve student engagement in the classroom and ultimately student performance through the use of flexible furniture and space design,” said Midway ISD Superintendent George Kazanas, Ed.D., M.S.Ed. ’94, B.B.A. ’90. “The teachers chosen to participate in the research project will take full advantage of the new capabilities for classroom design and are excited to be involved in this innovative partnership with Baylor, Region 12 and Huckabee.”

If the concept proves successful, the researchers hope to conduct a broader, more longitudinal study of four or five years to determine if it is suitable for more general application. Education Service Center Region 12 Executive Director, Jerry Maze, Ed.D., sees the Student Engagement Research Project as both groundbreaking and central to the center’s mission.

“Facilitating and improving education is what we are all about,” he says. “This project in particular has a lot going for it in terms of the resources all the organizations involved bring to the table: Baylor University, Huckabee, Midway ISD along with us here at ESC Region 12 – it’s a collaboration unique in education research as far as I know. It’s a truly creative concept and we’re all expecting great things.”

For more information about the Student Engagement Research Project, contact Todd Buchs, assistant vice provost for research and director of commercialization and industry engagement at the BRIC, at 254-710-1690 or Todd_Buchs@baylor.edu.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 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.

ABOUT THE BAYLOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION COLLABORATIVE (BRIC)

The Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) – the first, and cornerstone, facility of a 21-acre discovery complex that comprises the Central Texas Technology and Research Park – provides researchers, organizations and private companies with 330,000 square feet of physical space for labs, research centers, industry collaborative space and workforce training. The BRIC places many of Baylor’s most accomplished scientists and engineers in a uniquely collaborative environment, rich in resources and primed for incisive innovation in quantum physics, cosmology, and mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, ranging from the biomedical, geospatial and environmental sciences and beyond. The BRIC adds another practical dimension to discovery by bringing these and other highly sought support resources within easy grasp of entrepreneurs, businesses and industries whose very survival depends on timely innovation. For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/BRIC.

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