SCALE-UP: Is it really THAT different? | AUA Quick Reads

Dr Tony Churchill | Senior Educational Developer | Nottingham Trent University

A frequent question when we introduce SCALE-UP (Student-Centred Active Learning Environments with Upside-down Pedagogies) is “How is that different from my usual teaching?” In some ways, that is encouraging because it shows that many elements of the approach are familiar to academics, and the appetite they already have for implementing various elements of the pedagogy. 

We know SCALE-UP reduces unexplained progression (or non-continuation) and attainment gaps when using three or more SCALE-UP modules (per year and per course, respectively — see For many academics, group work is nothing new, but do they use SCALE-UP’s strategic approach to group formation or rotate its specific roles for students? Flipping content is also nothing new, although is the systematic checking of the understanding of the content routine? Problem-solving is regularly used as well but not always with a proven framework to help students through the process as in SCALE-UP. Students may give each other feedback on their work but are they teaching and supporting each other through the entire process? 

When asked for the “magic bullet”, our current response is Aristotelian — “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Without the “magic bullet”, how do we persuade academics to adopt SCALE-UP? We point to the gaps it closes. For so many students, it closes the unexplained attainment and progression gaps. For staff, it closes the gap between the high expectations of them and what they can achieve in the time available.  

406: Scaling up active collaborative learning for student success is a working session at the AUA Annual Lecture and Exhibition 2020. In these mini blogs, our session speakers talk about the journey that lead to this point. Read the full Conference programme here.

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