By Lia Hood
Dr. Karon LeCompte, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Baylor School of Education, received the 2023 Baylor Centennial Professors Award, along with another award from the Baylor Libraries — the Baylor Fundamentals of Data Research Fellowship, also for research this summer. LeCompte will use both awards to further her research in social studies education, particularly civics education through Baylor’s iEngage program.
The Centennial Professors Award honors two tenured Baylor faculty members with a $5,000 Centennial Faculty Development award to pursue research projects that aid in their professional development and contribute to Baylor academic life.
LeCompte is the co-founder of the iEngage Summer Civics Institute, a program that started at Baylor in the summer of 2013 as a week-long summer camp for fifth through ninth-graders and has expanded to other universities. The curriculum has also been implemented in school-based settings and incorporated during the regular instructional day..
“Situating this research within the iEngage program will allow for synthesizing findings within a successful program for high-impact scholarly contributions and establishing Baylor’s iEngage as a research-informed model for scaling civic education at a national level,” LeCompte said. “I aim to contribute to and enhance research on civic education and solidify Baylor’s national recognition as a leader in civic education and engagement.”
LeCompte will use the Baylor Centennial funding to visit three iEngage summer camp programs — at Baylor, TCU, and The University of Indiana. She will study their iEngage activities and interview students, teachers, and counselors at each location. Data gathered will be analyzed using Mixed Methods research design, and then potentially applied into a framework that would provide a foundation for developing teacher education programs, professional development of new teachers, and mentoring support for all elementary teachers.
The Centennial Professor grant funds will allow LeCompte to expand her ongoing research on action civics programs, especially the model used through iEngage. Her interest in civics education, teacher preparation, and technology have led to research examining whether learning experiences offered in the iEngage Summer Civics Institute lead to different thought processes among adolescents who are at different levels of civic development.
The iEngage program has cultivated civic and political engagement in adolescents and promoted interest in these subjects through inquiry-based civic projects that focus on community issues. Universities nationwide have been implementing their own iEngage camps to increase civic engagement. The program has been such a success that in 2022 Baylor’s iEngage Summer Civics Institute was recognized and honored nationally with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.
For the Fundamentals of Data Research Fellowship, awarded by Baylor University Libraries, ten Baylor faculty members received an award of $1,000 to aid in their research projects. As a recipient, LeCompte will complete up to 36 hours of module training on data research skills to implement into her research projects and then give a presentation on the work in September. Data mining is one of the main projects LeCompte plans to pursue through the grant and resources. She will be using data mining programs such as Python and BMI to gather data on specific civic issues.
“I want to incorporate data science into understanding the characteristics of a community,” LeCompte said. Her goal is to gather information on various civics issues and provide organized data for students at iEnage to interact with to further their research on specific community issues. During iEngage camp, students select a community issue to address and develop a plan of civic action for their specific community. LeCompte said this new source of data she plans to develop will provide additional targeted research for students to use. In the past, students have addressed issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, and water shortage. LeCompte and the team continue to use data to gather research that will unfold at a national level. Students at iEngage Civics Institutes will be able to research community issues, enact civic engagement among youth, and implement innovation solutions for further civic engagement.
For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.