Meet Baylor’s nationally recognized experts on civics education
Every summer, more than 100 5th- through 9th-grade students converge on the Baylor campus to hear from members of Congress, community leaders, attorneys, philanthropists and more. They return home with a greater understanding of the need for good citizenship, community issues and civic responsibilities.
Students learn those insights over a week-long experience in the iEngage Summer Civics Institute, created in 2013 by two Baylor School of Education professors, Drs. Brooke Blevins and Karon LeCompte . The pair built the program through the development of comprehensive curriculum and activities, with a research-backed ability to help the students who attend (grades 5-9) return home with a greater understanding of the role they can play in their communities through civic and political participation.
The idea for iEngage came while LeCompte and Blevins were researching the implementation of an online civics education program called iCivics at a Waco-area school district. They saw the opportunity to go further and create a fun, immersive experience that would feature interactions with civic leaders, mock trials, iCivics games, engagement in service learning, and even the creation of an advocacy project and website for a local issue. Those ideas formed the foundation for iEngage Civics Camp, which has grown since its formation at Baylor in 2013 to now include a second location at TCU.
LeCompte, an associate professor of curriculum in the School of Education (SOE), also serves as faculty-in-residence for Baylor’s Leadership Living Learning Center, living in Dawson Residence Hall among a group of students who have chosen to intentionally become better leaders. She models leadership in her work as chair of the membership committee and vice chair of the citizenship committee for the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), America’s largest professional association devoted solely to social studies education.
Blevins is an associate professor of social studies education, associate chair of the SOE’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and coordinator of the secondary social studies education program. She serves as book review editor for the journal Theory and Research in Social Education, is on the executive board for the NCSS’ College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA), was program chair for the 2016 CUFA conference in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the Social Studies Inquiry Research Collaborative.
In studying results of the first iEngage institutes, Blevins and LeCompte found that participants improved their civic knowledge, skills, and propensity for action; had higher scores in their ability to organize meetings and express their views in front of others; and recognized more strongly that they had a role to play in their communities. The two professors’ research has appeared in such journals as Democracy & Education, The Social Studies, The Journal of Social Studies Research, and Theory and Research in Social Education, and iEngage has been featured in numerous local media stories.
Sic ’em, Dr. LeCompte and Dr. Blevins!