Reflection on first D&M1 (mini-SCALEUP) session

session 1 pic PBLI am writing this post to model the reflective journal technique that I discussed with my BSc Year 1 Secondary Design and Technology Education (SDTE) students on Tuesday.

What? In the session we our first go at PBL. The students worked in groups of 3 to answer an open question (problem) on knitted fabric construction.

Why? I am trialling PBL as a technique to make the sessions more student centered.The theory implies that student centered techniques lead to deeper forms of learning and I want to raise the quantity and quality of my students work. Students didn’t really engage with SDS activities in the MM1 module and so I want to see if I can improve this by adapting the pedagogies that I use.

Reaction. The students knew less than I had assumed, on fabric construction methods and so the open question appeared to be pitched quite high. The students all get on with each other – however on observation I could see that certain members of the group dominated and sometimes the quiet students had the most to contribute.

Learned? I asked the students to write a reflection on the session and found that they reacted positively to the presentation of learning to their peers. They commented in their learning journal that they “particularly enjoyed presenting the information to the  rest of the group” because it was “more engaging to listen to a range of voices” and that the activity was “good for learning to improve personal clarity”.  They found the time scale a challenge, as most students commented in some form on this. However, it was good to see that some students had started to consider how they might make time management a future goal by furthering their understanding of “what problem solving is” and “how to use their time more effectively”

Goal. I need to spend a bit more time talking to the students about the philosophy behind PBL/SCALE-UP and ensure that SDS carried out beforehand is relevant and embedded within the taught session.

Why am I getting involved in SCALE-UP?

This might be the first of several post’s written to analyse my involvement in this project.  In my post ‘What is SCALE-UP?’ I discussed the concept behind the idea of replacing large lecture/lab teaching with studio style/PBL type teaching. This is because evidence of large scale teaching’s impact on student understanding is limited to only a few students in our classes (Biggs and Tang 2011). Beicher (2007, p3) identifies that high success rates, increased concept understanding, improved attitudes and successful problem  solving is associated with studio style learning. This all sounds good, and suits my philosophy of education which includes: inclusive teaching methods; collaborative learning; hands-on; and interactive pedagogies. 
However I don’t teach big classes!


BEICHNER, R.J., et al., 2007. The student-centered activities for large enrollment undergraduate programs (SCALE-UP) project. Research-Based Reform of University Physics, 1 (1), 2-39.
BIGGS, J. and TANG, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. Open university press. 

What is SCALE-UP?

Student-Centred Activities for Large Enrolment Undergraduate Programmes (SCALE-UP) is a new pedagogy developed by Robert Beichner at North Carolina State University. The philosophy behind SCALE-UP is based on pedagogies which are designed to support students with the active engagement of their own learning.
Beichner (2008, p.61) identifies how studio/workshop classes (often small scale) allow for research-based curricula. Research based curricula has the potential to improve students’ conceptual understanding and Beichner talks of a third way which has the potential to be more effective than lecture/laboratory formats.
This echoes the ideas explored by the students in the Mike Wesch Video – A Vision of Students Today.
BEICHNER, R., 2008. The SCALE-UP Project: a student-centered active learning environment for undergraduate programs. An Invited White Paper for the National Academy of Sciences