06 Dec Recipe for Geometry in Construction Success By Christina H. Paguyo, PhD
What are the key ingredients for successfully replicating Geometry in Construction? This is the million-dollar question posed by Scott Burke and Tom Moore, co-creators of the original Geometry in Construction program at Loveland High School. As a director of academic assessment in my day job and a research consultant in my moonlighting hours, this question sparked my curiosity and generated the current iteration of research I am conducting to learn how to scale up Geometry in Construction.
Scaling up is the concept and practice of taking one intervention from one site and replicating at other sites (Coburn, 2003; McDonald et al, 2006; McLaughlin et al, 2001). The success of scaling up is traditionally measured by boosting numbers––more teachers, more classrooms, more schools, and more school districts––that replicate or adapt the intervention of interest at their respective locations. Geometry in Construction is currently reproduced or tailored to varying degrees at over 300 high schools across the country. While this number suggests great success, we know very little about the process that each site experienced when they first attempted to launch Geometry in Construction. This is where research comes into play.
In collaboration with Scott and Tom, I designed a qualitative research study where we identified and invited educators to participate in interviews. Thus far, our interview sample represents a diversity of schools that serves heterogeneous populations of students from coast to coast. The common trait shared among all research participants was that their schools had launched and sustained Geometry in Construction for a minimum of two years. During the 2016 ACTE conference, I had the privilege of presenting preliminary findings from our study to answer that burning question: so, what are the key ingredients for successfully replicating Geometry in Construction?
Initial themes that emerge from the data suggest that behaviors of educators carry more weight and prominence than class size, amount of funding, types of students served, facilities, and even building a house as the capstone project.
Perhaps you are thinking, ‘Well, there is nothing particularly earth shattering about these findings!’ And I wish I could share that one silver bullet for replicating Geometry in Construction successfully. However, I believe there is much promise imbued in these emergent findings because it suggests that we, as educators, have much more impact, agency, and power than we think we do. For administrators, this means that you can purposefully mentor and lead your teachers to cultivate certain attitudes and behaviors that are associated with scaling up Geometry in Construction successfully. For teachers, this means that as long as you have a willingness to experiment with different pedagogical practices, you can create robust educational spaces for our students to learn and grow.
I am still in the exploratory phase of this research study, however, so these findings may shift as additional data are collected and analyzed. With this in mind, if you happen to be involved with some adaptation or clone of Geometry in Construction at your school, please let me know! I am actively seeking to recruit more teachers and administrators to participate in this scale up study. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if you are interested in sharing your experiences through this research study! I look forward to hearing from you and wish you a very happy holiday season.
Christina H. Paguyo is the Director of Academic Assessment at the University of Denver and principal research scientist and founder of Data Luminaries.
Coburn, C.E. (2003). Rethinking scale: Moving beyond numbers to deep and lasting change. Educational Researcher, 32(6), 3-12.
McDonald, S., Keesler, V.A., Kauffman, N.J., & Schneider, B. (2006). Scaling-up exemplary interventions. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 15-24.
McLaughlin, M.W., & Mitra, D. (2001). Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper and going broader. Journal of Educational Change, 2(4), 301-323.