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Introduction To Scale Up: Student Centered Activities For Large Enrollment University Physics

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.411.1 - 5.411.12



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Paper Authors

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Jeffery M. Saul

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Rhett J. Allain

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Duane L. Deardorff

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David S. Abbott

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Robert J. Beichner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2380

Introduction to SCALE-UP : Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment University Physics

Robert J. Beichner, Jeffery M. Saul, Rhett J. Allain, Duane L. Deardorff, David S. Abbott North Carolina State University


SCALE-UP is an extension of the highly successful IMPEC project (Integrated Math, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry), one of NC State’s curricular reform efforts undertaken as part of the SUCCEED coalition. Basically, we are utilizing the interactive, collaboratively based instruction that worked so well in smaller class settings and finding ways to economically accommodate classes of up to 100 students. Relative to students taught in traditional classes, SCALE-UP students are better problem solvers, achieve nearly four times the gain on some conceptual tests, have better attitudes toward science, and report greater satisfaction with their instruction. Failure rates for females are half those in regular classes. For minorities, the failure rate drops by a factor of four. Technology is used to provide a phenomenological focus for students, allowing data collection, analysis, mathematical modeling, and advanced simulations. As student attention is drawn into analyzing different physical situations, teachers circulate around the room and engage students in Socratic dialogs. Lecturing is minimal, primarily for motivation and to provide an overview of topics. The main objectives of the course will be presented, along with a discussion of some of the instructional techniques we employ.

I. Introduction

A common complaint of students entering a large university like NC State is the impersonal atmosphere of their large, lecture-oriented classes. Sections of at least 100 students are an economic necessity since there simply are not enough teachers or classrooms to allow smaller class sizes. This is seen as a disadvantage by both students and faculty. It usually results in minimal contact between students and the professor. Students often feel “lost in the crowd.” Teachers encounter low motivation and minimal student involvement with the material. Although students taking these courses often do reasonably well on traditional exams, research-based conceptual testing indicates a shallowness in their understanding. This has been clearly documented in numerous studies conducted across the country4, 13, 20, 23, 24, 28, 31, 38 and has perhaps been most clearly

Saul, J. M., & Allain, R. J., & Deardorff, D. L., & Abbott, D. S., & Beichner, R. J. (2000, June), Introduction To Scale Up: Student Centered Activities For Large Enrollment University Physics Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8515

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