SCALE-UP is a learning environment specifically created to facilitate active, collaborative learning in a studio-like setting. Some people think the rooms look more like restaurants than classrooms [ J. Gaffney, E. Richards, M.B. Kustusch, L. Ding, and R. Beichner, "Scaling up education reform,"Journal of College Science Teaching, 37 (5), 2008.] . The spaces are carefully designed to facilitate interactions between teams of students who work on short, interesting tasks. A decade of research [Beichner, R., Saul, J., Abbott, D., Morse, J., Deardorff, D., Allain, R., Bonham, S., Dancy, M., and Risley, J. (2006). [ “Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) project.”] In E. F. Redish and P. J. Cooney (Eds.), "PER-Based Reform in University Physics." College Park, MD: American Association of Physics Teachers.] [Y. Dori and J. Belcher, [ How does technology-enabled active learning affect undergraduate students' understanding of electromagnetism concepts] ," Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14"(2), 2004.] indicates significant improvements in learning. The approach taken during the development and testing of the learning environment is an application of scientific teaching and has been discussed in several books [Beichner, R., Dori, Y., and Belcher, J. (2006). “ New Physics Teaching and Assessment: Laboratory and Technology-Enhanced Active Learning..” In Mintzes, J. and Leonard, W. (Eds.), [ "Handbook of College Science Teaching"] , Washington DC: National Science Teachers Association.] [R. Beichner, [ “North Carolina State University: SCALE-UP.”] In Oblinger, D. (Ed.), "Learning Spaces," Boulder, CO: Educause, 2006.] [R. Beichner, and J. Saul, [ Introduction to the SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) Project] . In "Invention and Impact: Building Excellence in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education," proceedings of a conference by the Am. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, April 2004, Washington DC, 2005.] [M. Oliver-Hoyo and R Beichner, "The SCALE-UP Project," in [ "Teaching and Learning through Inquiry: A Guidebook for Institutions and Instructors"] , edited by V. S. Lee (Stylus Publishing, Sterling, VA, 2004).] . Although originating at NC State University, at least 50 colleges across the US and around the world have directly adopted the SCALE-UP model and adapted it to their particular needs.

The SCALE-UP name [The name was originally “Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Physics” but since its conception many different institutions have begun teaching a variety of courses of various sizes.] stands for “Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs.” The basic idea is that students are given something interesting to investigate. While they work in teams on these "tangibles" (hands-on measurements or observations) and "ponderables" (interesting, complex problems), the instructor is free to roam around the classroom–--asking questions, sending one team to help another, or asking why someone else got a different answer. There is no separate lab class and most of the "lectures" are actually class-wide discussions. The groups are carefully structured and give students many opportunities to interact. Three teams (labelled a, b, and c) sit at each round table and have white boards nearby. Each team has a laptop in case they need web access. The [ original design] called for 11 tables of nine students, but many schools have smaller classes while a few have even larger ones.

SCALE-UP Adopters

The main SCALE-UP [ website] has information from approximately 40 of the known adopters of this pedagogical approach.

SCALE-UP classes are being taught in college-level [ physics] , [ mathematics] , [ computer science] , [ chemistry] , [ engineering] , [ biology] , [ nursing] , [ business management] , [ astronomy] , and even [ literature] . There are also high school [ courses] that utilize this general pedagogy.

SCALE-UP at Penn State Erie: The Behrend College

At Penn State Erie, The Behrend College over 550 students have enrolled in [ SCALE-UP physics,] as of the summer of 2008. Starting in spring 2007, all sections of the introductory calculus-based physics course at Penn State Erie have been run using SCALE-UP methods. Overall achievement has increased from an average course grade of 1.8 on a 4-point grade scale before SCALE-UP (in the traditional lecture course) to a 2.2 since the start of SCALE-UP. Given the number of students, this is a highly statistically significant difference (p < .001). Scores on the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) post-test have also increased from an average score of 46% correct before SCALE-UP to 74% correct since SCALE-UP began. In the traditional lecture course before SCALE-UP was implemented, the FCI post-test scores were no better than the FCI pre-test scores, but now with SCALE-UP, student FCI scores jump by about 30% between the pre-test and the post-test. Additionally, on an opinion survey of former SCALE-UP students from previous semesters, students reported using the problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills that they had learned in SCALE-UP in other courses. "Teamwork and group problem-solving…are very important skills for engineers and other fields requiring group collaboration" reported one Computer & Software Engineering student. A Mechanical Engineering student stated that "SCALE-UP physics helped me to learn that exploring concepts on my own, outside of a lecture, helps me to remember them better."

Female students start SCALE-UP at Penn State Erie with SAT mathematics scores and mathematics placement test scores that are well below those of their male counterparts (p < .001 and p <.05 respectively). At the time of the first test of the semester, females still have significantly different scores, with an average of 62% versus the male mean of 74% (p < .001). By the second exam though, the females catch up to the males, and maintain this equality of achievement through the final examination (p > .05). The final course grades of males and females in SCALE-UP are not significantly different (p > .05), despite the fact that women start the course with lower scores on tests of prerequisite skills. This finding supports Streitmatter (1994), who reported that female students prefer, and achieve better in, classrooms where learning activities are structured as cooperative endeavors rather than within a competitive structure." [Streitmatter, J. (1994). Toward gender equity in the classroom: Everyday teachers’ beliefs and practices. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.]

Non-SCALE-UP Studios

Beyond the studio-based instruction that is commonly seen for art and dance classes, several universities have developed their own studio-based classrooms independently from the SCALE-UP project. (The well-known [ TEAL] classrooms at MIT are SCALE-UP adaptations.) The [ Workshop Physics Project] at Dickinson College produced some of the earliest studio-based science instruction. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute probably offers more college-level studio courses than anyone else [] . UC-Davis has been teaching physics in a studio classroom [] for several years.


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