Cooper Lecture - Robert Beichner, NC State University. Refreshments at 3:30pm.
Abstract: How do you keep a classroom of 100 undergraduates actively learning? Can students practice communication and teamwork skills in a large class? How do you boost the performance of underrepresented groups? The SCALE-UP Project has answered these questions. Project materials are in use by more than 1/3 of all science, math, and engineering majors nationwide through their inclusion in the leading introductory physics textbook. Physics, chemistry, and biology classes are currently in operation, with additional adaptations in progress at leading institutions across the US.
Educational research indicates that students should collaborate on interesting tasks and be deeply involved with the material they are studying. We promote active learning in a redesigned classroom for 100 students or more. (Of course, smaller classes can also benefit.) Classtime is spent primarily on “tangibles” and “ponderables”—hands-on activities, simulations, and interesting questions. There are also hypothesis-driven labs. Nine students sit in three teams at round tables. Instructors circulate and engage in Socratic dialogues. The setting looks like a banquet hall, with lively interactions nearly all the time.
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:
• Female failure rate is 1/5 of previous levels, even though more is demanded of students
• Minority failure rate is 1/4 that seen in comparable, traditionally taught courses
• At-risk students are more successful in later engineering courses
• Conceptual learning and problem solving are improved, with same content coverage
For more information, contact Robert_Beichner@ncsu.edu or visit scaleup.ncsu.edu.