Our Research

SMALLab Learning is grounded in years of empirical research conducted in K-12 schools and museums across the country. This research has been supported by multiple government agencies and private foundations including the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation. This research is published in international peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and constitutes a foundation of empirical evidence that embodied learning works.

In three recent studies, researchers focused on the the following questions:

  1. How does student learning in SMALLab compare to regular classroom instruction?
  2. Can SMALLab be successfully integrated with existing teaching methods and curricula?
  3. Can SMALLab promote a truly student-centered learning environment?

For more detailed information, please contact us.

 

Study 1: Student Learning in Mediated Titration

SMALLab Learning research - Chemistry TitrationResearch 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.This table shows the mean scores, the standard deviation (in parentheses) and the effect sizes (ES) for this study. The bolded effect sizes are after the SMALLab intervention.

Group n Pretest Midtest Mid ES Posttest Post ES Overall ES
1 (SMALLab/Reg) 16 32.83 (18.19) 60.62 (32.65) 1.09 71.44 (25.17) .37 1.78
2 (Reg/SMALLab) 35 34.23 (13.04) 38.89 (18.23) .30 75.11 (19.37) 1.93 2.52

References: Johnson-Glenberg, M., Birchfield, D., Tolentino, L., Koziupa, T. (under review).  Please Contact us for a copy of this article.

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. more…

 

Study 2: Student Learning in Geology Layer Cake

SMALLab Learning research - Geology LayercakeResearch Question: How does student learning in SMALLab compare to regular classroom instruction with different students, teachers, and learning content?

Method: We worked with students and their teacher in an urban public high school setting. Again, 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; classes received the second intervention – either Regular Instruction or SMALLab. We held content and teacher constant. Over the six days of study students took the content test three times: pretest, mid-test and post-test.

Results: Working with a different group of students, a different teacher, and a different set of learning objectives, we still see that student learning gains were significantly higher after SMALLab learning when compared to regular classroom instruction.  The graph illustrates that the same patterns hold as in the first study.This table shows the mean scores, the standard deviation (in parentheses) and the effect sizes for this study. The bolded effect sizes are after the SMALLab experience.

Group n Pretest Midtest Gain Mid ES Posttest Gain Mid to post ES
1 (SMALLab/Regular) 37 46.97 (18.21) 63.97 (22.48) 18.00 1.44 62.41 (20.88) 1.56 -.09
2 (Regular/SMALLab) 39 49.03 (13.60) 52.69 (16.52) 3.65 .38 72.03 (19.42) 19.42 1.34

 

Reference: Birchfield, D., & Johnson-Glenberg, M. C. (2010). A next gen Interface for embodied learning: SMALLab and the geological layer cake. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-mediated Simulation, 2, 1, 49-58. more…

 

Study 3: Participant Interaction in Geological Layer Cake

SMALLab Learning research - Participant Interaction

Research Question: Does SMALLab learning lead to student-centered 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.

Reference: 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. more…