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SCALE-UP: Student-Centred Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies

Nottingham Trent University is a UK leader in the use of SCALE-UP with colleagues across multiple disciplines and subjects using the approach. In 2018, around 200 academics will be involved in SCALE-UP teaching, supporting the learning of over 2,000 students across more than 200 modules. Our 12 bespoke SCALE-UP rooms, offer a range of capacities and a variety of technologies.

Our expertise in using SCALE-UP was recognised when, in 2017, we won one of 17 national collaborative projects in the HEFCE Catalyst programme: Addressing barriers to student success. Our project, led by Jane McNeil, Director of Academic Development, focuses on the use of SCALE-UP to address unexplained disparities in student outcomes.

Although the value of active collaborative learning approaches is widely recognized, it has proven challenging for HE institutions to adopt strategically across courses and at institutional level. Our project title is ‘Scaling up Active Collaborative Learning for Student Success’ and as part of this we will investigate institutional barriers to widespread adoption and evaluate the extent to which the benefits of this form of enquiry-based learning can reduce disparities in progression and attainment at scale.

Our partners on the Catalyst project are Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bradford. Their focus is on Team-Based Learning—another form of active collaborative learning that shares much in common with SCALE-UP. The project runs from March 2017 to February 2019. For more information visit the project website or contact the project lead: Jane McNeil.

The SCALE-UP approach

SCALE-UP offers an engaging, inclusive alternative to traditional lectures through the following components:

  • Room design and equipment to promote collaboration, including circular tables, shared laptops and mirroring technology.
  • 'Upside-down' teaching whereby content is encountered outside class and sessions are devoted to applying ideas.
  • Collaborative learning via problem-solving tasks in tutor-assigned groups with roles.

SCALE-UP has demonstrable benefits for student learning; NTU colleagues have reported greater student engagement with materials and more interaction between peers and the tutor, leading to increased conceptual understanding.

SCALE-UP was originally developed by Prof. Robert Beichner to teach calculus at North Carolina State University (NCSU), and is now used globally in over 375 organisations and a variety of disciplines. Further information about SCALE-UP at NCSU can be found on the NCSU website.

If you are a member of staff at NTU and you would like to know more about SCALE-UP or get some support, please email us or visit the Support and Resources tab. You may also be interested in other NTU collaborative and active learning spaces--visit the Experimental Teaching Rooms page for further details.

If you are external to NTU and would like to talk to us about SCALE-UP or the project, do please email us.

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