How to Implement SCALE-UP

Classroom design The learning environment is an important component of the SCALE-UP classroom. The spaces are designed to promote active, collaborative learning. Classrooms look more like restaurants than traditional classrooms with round tables and comfortable chairs. Though most adopters use round tables, some institutions have adopted X- / T-shaped tables or bean-shaped tables. Three teams of three share a table and have white boards nearby. These are either large and mounted on the walls or smaller and portable. Because students do their "thinking" on these public spaces, the instructor can more easily see how teams are progressing during an activity. In addition, students can view/critique each other's work while working or as a tool for presentation to the entire class. In some institutions, each team has a laptop for web access. At North Carolina State University, the original site, classes usually have 11 tables of nine students. Many institutions that have adopted SCALE-UP have smaller classes while a few have larger ones.

Team management Managing teams in a SCALE-UP environment requires a different set of skills than those required by instructors in a traditional lecture setting. Instructors facilitate active learning by fostering productive student team interactions. Team composition is carefully selected by the instructor and members of each team are given rotating, defined roles - a scribe, a manager, and a skeptic. On a particular day, for example, the scribe role could be assigned to the student that lives farthest from campus, the skeptic role to the one closest to campus with the manager role assigned to the student that lives in between. Professional development opportunities may assist instructors with team management and building skills.

Instructional modules A key component to the success of a SCALE-UP classroom is the design of instructional modules. SCALE-UP instructional modules address course objectives and deemphasize traditional lecture/lab approaches. Instructional modules are group activities such as tangibles, ponderables, labs, and group problem-solving. Tangibles are short tasks where students make hand-on measurements or observations while ponderables are activities that may require estimating or finding values perhaps from the web, but no observations are needed. All questions and problems are difficult enough that students appreciate having their teammates available to help. Adopting SCALE-UP for the first time in a course will require additional prep time to develop instructional modules prior to course implementation.

There is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page that folks have found helpful.

For additional information on how to implement SCALE-UP, please contact Bob Beichner at