SCALE-UPThe active collaborative learning for student success project ran from March 2017 – February 2019 and has now concluded. This website serves as a historic legacy and is no longer regularly updated.
Student-Centred Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies – is an active, collaborative mode of learning which offers an alternative to didactic and discursive pedagogies like lectures and seminars.
What is Scale-Up?
In SCALE-UP, lectures are replaced by problem-solving and enquiry-based activities carried out in strategically-assigned groups. To foster collaborative learning, the re-designed classroom environment incorporates circular tables and technologies to enable students to share their work in small groups and in ‘Public Thinking Spaces’. These elements are supported by ‘upside-down pedagogies’ such as flipped learning, peer teaching, and rotating group roles. The shift away from lectures frees up class time for students to focus on difficult aspects of the material, to work at their own pace, and to receive on-the-spot feedback on their work from peers and the tutor.
Benefits of Scale-Up
SCALE-UP has many benefits for student learning, as demonstrated through evaluation by Beichner – the originator of SCALE-UP – and other adopters. Beichner’s research documents improvements in both student engagement and achievement, in particular an increase in conceptual understanding; improvements in problem-solving skills, engagement and attendance; reduction in failure rates; and a tendency for “at-risk” students to perform better in later modules. More significantly, for our purposes, Beichner et al demonstrated that not only did SCALE-UP significantly reduce overall failure, this was particularly the case for gender and ethnicity, when compared with performance on lecture-based physics courses. While evaluations of SCALE-UP teaching thus far have shown positive signs for student engagement and attainment, these studies have been carried out at a relatively small scale and largely in STEM subjects.
Summary of project findings for Nottingham Trent University
Overall, use of SCALE-UP is associated with reduced progression gaps, reduced attainment gaps, improvements in attendance and improvements in engagement.
The analysis relates to undergraduate full-time students, comparing data over three academic years, where available, for SCALE-UP and non-SCALE-UP modules. In 2017/18, around 50% of courses contained at least one SCALE-UP module (based on timetabling data).
SCALE-UP modules had lower failure rates and higher grades for Success for All target groups, and improved attainment for all but gender. This benefit extended to course level, particularly where there was increased exposure to SCALE-UP. In short, the more SCALE-UP modules studied, the greater their impact on progression and attainment for disadvantaged students.
The tipping point for particularly positive outcomes was where students studied three SCALE-UP modules in a year. This phenomenon was observed in four schools where there was a higher prevalence of SCALE-UP overall.
SCALE-UP was associated with lower student satisfaction (4.9 percentage points (pp)) lower, averaged over three academic years), as measured in standard module evaluation surveys.
SCALE-UP was associated with high levels of staff satisfaction.
Track record of using the approach
NTU WAS the first UK university to introduce SCALE-UP across an extensive range of subjects. In an evaluation of the 33 NTU SCALE-UP pilot modules in 2013-14, teaching staff reported greater student engagement with materials and more interaction between peers and the tutor, leading to increased conceptual understanding.
Building on this initial success, NTU invested in new bespoke SCALE-UP rooms. In 2019, there were 17 across two campuses. SCALE-UP was used on over 249 modules, in subjects as diverse as Law, History, Physics, Business, and Architecture and was within 50% of our Undergraduate courses, meaning that 47% of full-time undergraduates experienced at least one SCALE-UP module in the 2018/19 academic year. NTU hosted an international SCALE-UP conference and shared pilot findings widely. SCALE-UP sits within our wider Success for All programme, led by the Vice-Chancellor.