2016 journal article
Get a room: the role of classroom space in sustained implementation of studio style instruction
International Journal of STEM Education, 3(1).
The characteristics of the classroom environment play an important role in shaping teaching practices and supporting research-based instructional strategies. One instructional strategy that has reimagined the classroom is the Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-Down Pedagogies (SCALE-UP). SCALE-UP uses studio-style instruction to facilitate student collaboration. Although there is significant interest in studio-style instruction, there is not much research-based guidance available for institutions interested in setting up a classroom, especially for secondary users interested in using this in different academic settings and contexts. We interviewed key informants involved in 21 successful secondary implementations of SCALE-UP about creating, using, and spreading studio-style classrooms. This paper summarizes respondent’s perceptions of (1) how these classrooms are initiated; (2) which classroom features are helpful, non-essential, and unhelpful; (3) how professional development efforts support SCALE-UP instructors; and (4) how the classroom indirectly affects the department and/or institution. Room initiation Interviewees engaged in multiple activities to obtain a studio-style classroom. The majority of interviewees worked in teams created by faculty or administrators, with the participation from both groups. Interviewees typically sought institutional funding to develop the rooms. Classroom features When developing the room, implementers used many key characteristics of the recommended classroom, such as collaborative workspace (e.g., special tables) for students, but they generally did not replicate all of the recommended features. Interviewees had mixed opinions about the importance of classroom technology. Professional development and support Interviewees noted the importance of professional development for teaching staff (instructors and teaching assistants) new to the SCALE-UP teaching environment. Indirect effects Beyond direct benefits to the teachers and learners, our interviewees reported that the classrooms had larger impacts including attracting visitors to the institution and encouraging the use of active learning in non-SCALE-UP classes. There are many paths to successful development of a studio-style classroom. The process can be initiated by faculty or administrators. Classroom designs can vary to suit the local environment as long as they maintain the intent of the space: to support peer collaboration. Beyond improving student outcomes, these classrooms have additional benefits for institutions that include transforming instructor approaches to teaching and symbolizing the institution’s commitment to quality teaching.