SMALLab Learning is grounded in years of empirical research conducted in K-12 schools and museums across the country. This research is published in international peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and constitutes a foundation of empirical evidence that embodied learning works. We gratefully acknowledge that this research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Intel Research, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

STUDY 1: 86% Increase in student achievement

Research Question: 

How does student learning in SMALLab compare to regular classroom instruction?

Method: 

We worked with students and their teacher in an urban public high school setting. Multiple classes were randomly assigned to receive either SMALLab or Regular Instruction first. A wait-list control paradigm was used. Students took the mid-test and then order of intervention switched; the classes received the second intervention – either Regular Instruction or SMALLab. We held content and teacher constant. Over the six days of the study students took the content test three times: pretest, mid-test and post-test.

Results: 

Student learning gains were significantly higher after the SMALLab learning intervention when compared to regular classroom instruction. The graph shows student’s mean scores changing over time.The result is statistically significant (p < 0.05) with a large effect size (> 1.00).

Peer-Reviewed Publication:

Tolentino, L., Birchfield, D., Megowan-Romanowicz, M.C., Johnson-Glenberg, M., Kelliher, A., Martinez, C. (2010). Teaching and learning n the Mixed-Reality Science Classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, Volume 18, Issue 6, 501-517.

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STUDY 2: 6.7x rise in student-led learning

Research Question: 

Does SMALLab increase to student-led learning when compared to regular classroom instruction?

Method: 

Researchers videotaped learning sessions for groups of students and their teacher in SMALLab and in their regular classrooms. Researchers coded the types of verbal interactions that occurred throughout each of the learning experiences. Four types of verbal utterances were classified and compared: (1) teacher-to-student, (2) student-to-teacher, (3) student-to-student, and (4) student discussions. Elevated levels of student driven interaction are interpreted as evidence of a more student-centered learning environment.

Results: 

Student-driven utterances were substantially higher in SMALLab when compared to the same students learning with their teacher in their regular classroom.This charts shows the proportion of each types of utterance in each conditions. There is a marked increase in the number of student-to-student and student-discussions during SMALLab.  The full research publication provides additional details regarding changes over time.

Peer-Reviewed Publication:

Birchfield, D., & Megowan, M. C. (2008). Earth science learning in SMALLab: A design experiment for mixed-reality. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Volume 4, Issue 4, 403-421.

STUDY 3

33% improvement in teacher performance

Research Question: 

Does SMALLab lead to better teacher performance when compared against their methods in a regular classroom environment? 

Method: 

Researchers observed teachers in SMALLab and in their regular classrooms. Researchers used a well-established instrument called the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol [RTOP]. It is designed to measure the extent to which a teacher uses 'reformed' or progressive approaches in their instruction.

Results: 

Teachers rated 33% higher when teaching in SMALLab rather than their regular classroom. In areas such as Lesson Design & Implementation, the results were even higher.

Peer-Reviewed Publication:

Tolentino, L, Birchfield, D., & Megowan, M. C., Johnson-Glenberg, M., Kelliher, A., Martinez, C. (2009). Teaching and Learning in the Mixed-Reality Science Classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, Volume 18, Issue 6, 501-517.