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Examining the Diffusion of Research-Based Instructional Strategies Using Social Network Analysis: A Case Study of SCALE-UP

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Engineering Physics & Physics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.557.1 - 24.557.14

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Paper Authors


Xaver Neumeyer Western Michigan University

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Xaver Neumeyer is currently a research associate at Western Michigan University, working on diffusion mechanisms of research-based instructional strategies. In his dissertation work, he examined the effect of team conflicts on students' perceptions of effective teamwork. He received his Master of Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has worked on research projects related to team learning, the role of team conflict in design and decision making, and entrepreneurial thinking in student teams.

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Kathleen Teressa Foote North Carolina State University

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Kathleen Foote received her B.S. degree (2010) from Providence College as a double major in Applied Physics and Physics Secondary Education and a M.S. (2013) from North Carolina State University. She is currently a doctoral student at North Carolina State University with research interests in active learning environments, the spread of research-based reform and promoting the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

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Robert J. Beichner North Carolina State University


Melissa H. Dancy University of Colorado, Boulder

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Dr. Melissa Dancy is a member of the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Colorado. Her research focus is on educational transformation of STEM in higher education.

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Charles Henderson Western Michigan University Orcid 16x16

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Charles Henderson, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Western Michigan University (WMU), with a joint appointment between the Physics Department and the WMU Mallinson Institute for Science Education. Much of his research activity is focused on understanding and improving the slow incorporation of research-based instructional reforms into college-level STEM courses (see for details). In spring 2010, he was a Fulbright Scholar with the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Dr. Henderson was a member of the National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation and is the senior editor for the journal Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research.

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Diffusion of research-based instructional strategies: A census of SCALE-UPOverviewImplementing research-based instructional strategies into practice has been an ongoing challenge forSTEM educators. Available evidence indicates that while these efforts have had an impact on mainstreamteaching, the majority of teaching is still inconsistent with what research has shown to be best practices(Dancy and Henderson 2010; Handelsman et al. 2004; Henderson and Dancy 2009; Redish 2003;McCray, DeHaan, and Schuck 2002). Our project involves a case study of the spread of one particularresearch-based instructional strategy, Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for UndergraduatePrograms (SCALE-UP). SCALE-UP was chosen because it has been shown to be effective in a variety ofcontexts, has spread informally from one adopter to another, and has crossed into multiple STEMdepartments at a variety of institutions (Beichner and Saul 1999; Beichner et al. 2000). The first phase ofthe project is to use a national survey to better understand the spread of SCALE-UP. The survey wasdistributed to individual educators that had expressed interest in SCALE-UP (e.g. workshops,presentations, publications, individual consultations) as well as through several listservs related to STEMeducation. Snowball sampling was used to identify additional respondents. In this paper we will examinethe following research questions: 1. How widespread is the use of SCALE-UP throughout different institutions and academic departments in the U.S.? 2. When SCALE-UP is used, what does implementation look like?Sample of Preliminary ResultsHere, we highlight two interesting findings from our preliminary analysis of the survey. The final paperwill report substantially more analysis and results. Our survey results indicate that SCALE-UP use hasbeen reported by about 460 instructors (STEM and Non-STEM) at 217 academic institutions throughoutthe U.S. However, SCALE-UP use in more than one department, was only found in 27% of theseinstitutions (see Figure 1). Figure 1 Proportion of academic departments per institution that use SCALE-UP in the U.S.Concerning the implementation of SCALE-UP in different fields, we found that classroom tools such asround tables, clickers or laptops were more commonly used by physics instructors than by instructors inother disciplines such as chemistry or biology. For example, the majority (60%) of physics instructorsreported to use classroom response systems (e.g. clickers), whereas chemistry, biology, non-STEM, andengineering and computer science instructors reported a level of use that ranged between 32% and 20%(see Figure 2). Figure 2 Use of classroom tools to enhance group interactionSummaryThe results of this study will increase the value of the substantial R&D efforts in science education bybetter understanding how and why research-based innovations come to be integrated in mainstreamteaching and developing recommendations for increasing the impact of research-based reforms.Beichner, R. J., and J.M. Saul. 1999. “Student-centered Activities for Large-enrollment University Physics (SCALE-UP).” In Proceedings of the Sigma Xi Forum on the Reform of Undergraduate Education, pp. 43–52.Beichner, R.J., J.M. Saul, R.J. Allain, D.L. Deardorff, and D.S. Abbott. 2000. “Introduction to SCALE- UP: Student-Centered Activities for Large-Enrollment University Physics.” In Proceedings, 2000 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Washington, DC: American Society for Engineering Education.Dancy, Melissa, and Charles Henderson. 2010. “Pedagogical Practices and Instructional Change of Physics Faculty.” American Journal of Physics 78: 1056.Handelsman, Jo, Diane Ebert-May, Robert Beichner, Peter Bruns, Amy Chang, Robert DeHaan, Jim Gentile, Sarah Lauffer, James Stewart, and Shirley M. Tilghman. 2004. “Scientific Teaching.” Science 304 (5670): 521–522.Henderson, Charles, and Melissa H. Dancy. 2009. “Impact of Physics Education Research on the Teaching of Introductory Quantitative Physics in the United States.” Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research 5 (2): 020107.McCray, Richard A., Robert L. DeHaan, and Julie Anne Schuck. 2002. Improving Undergraduate Instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Report of a Workshop. National Academies Press.Redish, Edward F. 2003. Teaching Physics: With the Physics Suite. John Wiley & Sons Hoboken, NJ.

Neumeyer, X., & Foote, K. T., & Beichner, R. J., & Dancy, M. H., & Henderson, C. (2014, June), Examining the Diffusion of Research-Based Instructional Strategies Using Social Network Analysis: A Case Study of SCALE-UP Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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