Proposal Title

The Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) Project

Presenters

Robert Beichner

Proposal Abstract

How do you keep a large class of undergraduates actively learning? Can students practice communication and teamwork skills in a large class? How do you boost the performance of underrepresented groups? The S tudent- Centered A ctivities for L arge E nrollment U ndergraduate P rograms (SCALE-UP ) Project has addressed these concerns. Materials developed by the project are now in use by more than 1/3 of all science, math, and engineering majors nationwide. Physics and chemistry classes are currently in operation, with biology, engineering, and oceanography adaptations in progress.

Hundreds of hours of classroom video and audio recordings, transcripts of numerous interviews and focus groups, data from conceptual learning assessments (using widely-recognized instruments in a pretest/posttest protocol), and collected portfolios of student work are part of our rigorous assessment effort. We have data comparing 16,000+ students. Our findings can be summarized as the following:

  • Ability to solve problems is improved
  • Conceptual understanding is increased
  • Attitudes are improved
  • Failure rates are drastically reduced, especially for women and minorities
  • Performance in later courses is enhanced

In this talk I will discuss the classroom environment, describe some of the activities, and review the findings of studies of learning in various SCALE-UP settings.

Presenter Bio

The featured speaker for the inaugural conference is Dr. Robert Beichner who is an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University where he specializes in Physics Education.

Bob's research focuses on increasing the understanding of student learning and the improvement of physics education. Working from a base of National Science Foundation and computer industry support, he developed the popular "video-based lab" approach for introductory physics laboratories. A spin-off from the award-winning VideoGraph project was a study of how the visual perception of motion can best be utilized in instructional computer animations and how that information can be used by teachers of large lecture classes. In a separate project, Dr. Beichner and his students are writing a series of tests aimed at diagnosing students' misconceptions about a variety of introductory physics topics. The kinematics graphing test developed by Dr. Beichner is now being used in high schools and colleges around the world.

A current project is the creation and study of a learning environment supporting a new way to teach called SCALE-UP: Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs. The SCALE-UP project is part of Dr. Beichner's efforts to reform physics instruction at a national level. He co-authored with Raymond Serway a textbook, the 5th edition of Physics for Scientists and Engineers, that was the top-selling introductory calculus-based physics book in the nation, and was used by more than a third of all science, math, and engineering majors. He is currently the director of the PER-CENTRAL project, working to establish an electronic "home base" for the Physics Education Research community. He is also the founding editor of the APS journal Physical Review Special Topics: Physics Education Research.

Location

Luncheon and Featured Address

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Nov 2nd, 12:00 PM Nov 2nd, 1:30 PM

The Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) Project

Luncheon and Featured Address

How do you keep a large class of undergraduates actively learning? Can students practice communication and teamwork skills in a large class? How do you boost the performance of underrepresented groups? The S tudent- Centered A ctivities for L arge E nrollment U ndergraduate P rograms (SCALE-UP ) Project has addressed these concerns. Materials developed by the project are now in use by more than 1/3 of all science, math, and engineering majors nationwide. Physics and chemistry classes are currently in operation, with biology, engineering, and oceanography adaptations in progress.

Hundreds of hours of classroom video and audio recordings, transcripts of numerous interviews and focus groups, data from conceptual learning assessments (using widely-recognized instruments in a pretest/posttest protocol), and collected portfolios of student work are part of our rigorous assessment effort. We have data comparing 16,000+ students. Our findings can be summarized as the following:

  • Ability to solve problems is improved
  • Conceptual understanding is increased
  • Attitudes are improved
  • Failure rates are drastically reduced, especially for women and minorities
  • Performance in later courses is enhanced

In this talk I will discuss the classroom environment, describe some of the activities, and review the findings of studies of learning in various SCALE-UP settings.