Baylor’s Education and Research Program Returns to Campus and Mayborn Museum to Help Young Learners Improve Their Math Skills | Media and public relations

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SOE contact: Meg Cullar, Baylor School of Education, 254-710-6435
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WACO, Texas (July 15, 2022) – Following a 2020 hiatus due to COVID and an integrated 2021 program at a local summer school, Baylor University Mathematics Academy for Young Learners (MELA), sponsored by the Baylor School of Education (SOE)is back on the Baylor campus from July 5 to 28 to welcome students aged 4 to 6 to the Mayborn Museum.

On Monday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., these young students will be treated to a math treat as Baylor student-athletes join them to share how they use math in their respective sports. The special demonstration inside the Getterman Indoor Softball Practice Facility, next to the Mayborn Museum.

The summer program, designed for students who have just finished kindergarten or kindergarten and led by Sandi Cooper, Ph.D.teacher in mathematics education, aims to establish a solid foundation in “number sense”, especially for students who have been identified as having difficulties in mathematics.

The program, which has measurably helped young students ages 4 to 6 meet or exceed grade-level expectations for early math skills and number fluency, continues to test its new curriculum and assessments and to conduct research on “teacher noting” which studies the Baylor teacher-education students who teach in the program.

“MELA is about building number sense, that is, making and breaking up numbers — more than counting,” Cooper said. “When you think of the number 5, you can think of it as a sum of 3 and 2 or 4 and 1, and there are sets of fives and counting by fives. And 5 can be found in the real world; for example , a nickel represents the number 5. It’s about understanding what the numbers mean, not just counting by heart.

For 2022, Baylor SOE is partnering with three school districts and welcoming more than 60 students from five different elementary schools:

  • Waco ISD – Alta Vista Elementary, Crestview Elementary and South Waco Elementary
  • La Vega ISD – La Vega Primary
  • Midway ISD – Castleman Creek

MELA’s staff includes 11 master teachers, five Baylor students, seven participating ISD paraprofessionals, five graduate students (from two Baylor departments), and two research consultants, recent Baylor PhD graduates.

Currently researching

Cooper said research shows that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than reading skills, but many preschools don’t focus enough on math. Often, students do not receive math interventions until later years.

During MELA, the Baylor team conducts research on early math curricula, assessment tools, and teacher training.

When MELA started, the educational team modified a program designed for the full school year. Then, based on research data collected during MELA sessions, an expert team of Baylor educators developed a four-week program designed for summer intervention use, such as by districts during their summertime programs. summer. Assessment tools administered before and after the MELA program are part of the curriculum being developed.

In 2021, due to COVID limitations, MELA was incorporated into a summer school on the campus of La Vega Elementary School, allowing the Baylor research team to implement pilot testing of the curriculum. newly developed four weeks and accompanying assessment tools, gathering feedback for further development. Research-based evaluation of the MELA program is ongoing with a research team that collects data and assesses student development.

“Bringing the program into a traditional summer school was a valuable research venue, especially for program development,” Cooper said. “We’ve made some updates to this year’s program based on last year’s experiences.”

The return to the Mayborn Museum allows the teaching team more flexibility, Cooper said.

“The goal remains to produce a summer curriculum that would be available to any school district,” Cooper said, noting that a team of faculty are also working on efforts to support students. who are learning English.

In addition to research related to the development of number sense for young learners, Cooper organized a team of graduate student researchers to study the professional growth of Baylor SOE teacher education students as they prepared and taught mathematics in the summer program.

This ‘teacher notice’ research was designed to determine how these Baylor students ‘notice’ math learning based on young learners’ verbal responses and their interactions with tasks. As part of this research, Baylor students participate in a “video club” once a week to review video clips of themselves and their peers and discuss the process of noticing – attending, responding and interpreting.

Baylor Campus Benefits

Cooper said the MELA experience is enhanced by being on the Baylor campus, based at the Mayborn Museum.

“The Mayborn provides appropriate classrooms, and students can also venture into the beautiful exhibits,” Cooper said. “We take numbered walks throughout the museum and can enter exhibits to experience mathematical explorations.”

Students also enjoy this summer’s special “Superhero” exhibit at the Mayborn, and MELA includes field trips to other campus sites, such as the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat and Baylor’s athletic facilities.

“By hosting at Mayborn for 2022, we are able to offer more instruction time dedicated to the concepts introduced in the new MELA curriculum,” Cooper said. “At Mayborn, MELA is 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and all time is organized by MELA staff and focused on math. Instructional time includes whole group lessons, small group lessons, stations, and walks in the museum focused on number development. Accommodation at Baylor provides more time for the program to have an impact on these children.


For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education into the classroom and beyond as teachers, elementary and higher education leaders, psychologists, professors , researchers, etc. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its longstanding commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentorship. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national recognition for its innovative partnerships with local schools that provide prospective teachers with in-depth clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed .D. and doctorate. prepare exceptional leaders, teachers, and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit to learn more.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked 1 research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for over 20,000 students by combining interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Established in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continuously operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a wide range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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