models, instructors increase interactivity during lectures and create tight links between lecture materials and laboratory activities without modifying the classroom space or schedule. Based on her research, Cummings said that if instructors use physics education research–based materials in these hybrid models, students’ conceptual understanding can improve significantly.

Although hybrid models can yield appreciable gains in conceptual under standing, the appeal of the studio model lies in its ability to promote other skills. With studio models, Cummings said, students are more responsible for their own learning and develop lifelong learning skills. For example, they are required to communicate about scientific content and their intentions in applying the scientific method. They also must work efficiently in groups that they did not select, which mirrors many work environments. For Cummings, these potential gains raise the question of “What can the studio environment be proven to do that less expensive models and implementation cannot?”


Project SCALE-UP

Robert Beichner (North Carolina State University) discussed the SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) project, which aims to restructure classes with large enrollments following the studio model (see More than 50 colleges and universities have adapted the SCALE-UP approach in physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, and literature courses. Although the implementation of SCALE-UP varies by institution, its central feature is a redesigned learning environment to facilitate collaborative, hands-on learning and interaction among students and instructors. SCALE-UP classrooms typically have round tables with an instructor station in the middle of the room, and some contain white-boards, public thinking spaces, and storage facilities that make equipment accessible to students. Students in SCALE-UP courses are formally assigned to mixed-ability groups of students who sit at the round tables, and each table has several networked laptops.

Similar to the studio approach described in the previous section, a typical SCALE-UP class meets for five or six hours a week, combining lecture time and lab time. Classes often begin with a short lecture to set the stage for the day’s activities and relate them to the previous class. Students spend the remainder of the time in activities called “tangibles,” which are hands-on observations or measurements; “ponderables,” which are complex, real-world questions; and simulations. Classes typically end with a whole-group follow-up discussion and a brief summary lecture.

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