SCALE-UP classroom offers student engagement

Jillian Wilcox, Rocket Contributor
August 28, 2014

A new and unique large-scale lab called SCALE-UP that holds almost 110 students was introduced to students this week in North Hall’s former faculty dining room.

SCALE-UP stands for Student-Center Active Learning Environment with upside-down pedagogies. The idea behind the room leads to a unique way of teaching. The upside down part is that the students will more actively learn on their own, as opposed to being in a lecture environment. There is no “front” of the classroom, and the professor remains in the center of the room.

“The students are in charge of their own learning. We’re in charge of the agenda, but they are much more in charge of the details,” Dr. Ben Shaevitz of the Physics Department said.

The SCALE-UP room has 12 tables of nine with three groups of three at each table. Each set of three students at the table has access to a computer for their group. The room also contains six projectors which are on multiple walls so that students will not have to turn to see what is being displayed. The room contains abilities that are not like any other room on campus.

Shaevitz plans to hold five to ten minute “chalk talks” instead of lectures, encouraging his students to become actively involved with interaction being held on a much smaller and more manageable scale.

The space is perfect for this kind of learning and allows for more engagement and inquiry, according to Shaevitz. Simulations, labs, collaboration, and involvement of different equipment are all possibilities.

“Teaching isn’t telling, it’s facilitating learning,” Shaevitz said.

Shaevitz said that although the topics in his classes may carry over, the activities will not. This gives students more of an opportunity to stay engaged in the classroom.

The Physics, GGE, and Exercise Science Departments are all holding classes in the SCALE-UP room this semester. While the Physics Department is using the class for introduction classes holding several majors, Exercise Science is using the room for more advanced-*-level classes. GGE will use the classroom for environmental problems.

Although smaller rooms similar to the SCALE-UP room have existed since the 1990s, it has grown to a larger scale since then. Large universities have gained increased use of this teaching model, according to Shaevitz. Dr. Shaevitz said he would welcome the possibility of more classrooms like this being built at SRU and other sister schools.

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