Scale-up sections Overview
      by Dr. Vern Lindberg

This section of University Physics is being offered in an alternative approach to the standard lecture + lab format. We will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 2 hours each day, and you will be actively involved at almost all times. The particular model of curriculum we will use ("SCALE-UP") was devised at North Carolina State University and this approach is being used at other schools such as Dickenson College, MIT, and RPI. NCSU reports the following results for its "SCALE-UP" program (

1. Problem Solving skills were better, averaging 83% vs. 68% on the same exam problems. In the spring of 1999, SCALE-UP students did better on 20 of 29 common exam problems

2. Success rates of African-American students and of women students were dramatically better than in the traditional lecture course.

3. Student satisfaction with the course is widespread. Of the last pilot semester’s students, all but one selected "5. Very Satisfied" on NC State’s standard course evaluation form.

The underlying philosophy of this course can be summed up by the following saying:

Tell me–I forget.

Show me–I remember

Involve me–I understand

So what is different about this course?

1. The classroom looks different. There is no clear front to the room. Instead of having the instructor be the center of attention, the students are the center of attention.

2. Much of the work you do will involve groups of 3. Learning how to work in groups effectively, and how to enable others to work effectively is not a trivial task. I will arrange the groups that will remain together for at least half the quarter. I will spend some time describing roles of group members, and you will assume different roles during the quarter.

3. I will talk for some time at various points in the class, but for much of the time you will be involved in activities keyed to the ideas that must be learned. These activities include pencil-and-paper "ponderables", brief experimental "tangibles", and longer experiments that involve both the underlying physics and the methods of experimentation.

4. A great deal of effort will be spent on helping you understand the qualitative aspects of physics. Many students exit traditional courses with the idea that physics is just a collection of formulas that work for physics problems but do not necessarily apply to the real everyday world. In addition to being asked qualitative questions, you will be asked quantitative questions and will see some of the same questions on the final as for other sections.

5. You will be expected to be an active participant in class. You are responsible to yourself and to your group members. Your group will generate a contract for itself.

6. A variety of computer applications will be used in this course. I will maintain an active website that will contain most of the day-to-day activities. Some of your homework will be submitted and graded on-line with WebAssign. You will use LoggerPro to collect data on the computer from various interfaces. You will capture videos and analyze them with Videopoint. You will simulate the things you do with Interactive Physics. And you will use Excel for some analysis and graphing.

Collaborative Work

Scientists and engineers work in groups as well as alone. Social interactions are critical to their success. Most good ideas grow out of discussions with colleagues. This course encourages collaborative teamwork, a skill that is valued by most employers. As you study together, help your partners to get over confusions, ask each other questions, and critique your group homework and lab write-ups. Teach each other! You can learn a great deal by teaching.

While collaboration is the rule in technical work, evaluations of individuals also play an important role in science and engineering. Quizzes and exams are to be done without help from others.

In-Class Group Activities

During each class there will be one or more activities to be done as a group. You will submit these at the end of class. They will be graded on a three point scale– "-" Incomplete or incorrect, "" Basically correct, "+" Correct with additional insight.

On each group work assignment, your group must designate a manager to organize the work and make certain everyone understands who is supposed to be doing what, a recorder to prepare the final solution, and one or two skeptics/checkers, to check the final solutions for correctness and to verify that everyone in the group understands all the solutions. These roles must rotate for every assignment. If you do homework in groups, each team member should set up and solve problems individually, then the team should get together to check results and resolve conflicts. Sample contracts for group members will be available.

To help make the connection between course concepts and the "real world," your group will work on complex problems that often involve making estimations and assumptions, researching on the web, and completing fairly complicated calculations. These will require the GOAL problem-solving technique we will be utilizing in class.

Group Self Evaluation

You may be asked to evaluate the teamsmanship of everyone in your group using a specially designed form.

Homework Assignments

WebAssign is an automated problem presentation and grading program. Most of the WebAssign problems will be of two types: Qualitative, including questions based on the reading in the text, and Quantitative, questions with numeric or symbolic answers.

Written Assignments will be handed in. While you can use your groups or other friends to assist you, you are individually responsible for doing the homework and understanding it.

Readings You are responsible for reading the textbook. The exams will be based on your reading as well as what we do in class. Some form of check-off tests based on reading may be used from time to time.

Laboratory Hands-on, inquiry-based activities during the class period will allow you to uncover various aspects of a physics concept. Labs will vary in length and complexity. Some labs will require formal lab reports that should follow basic scientific report guidelines. A sample lab report will be available for reference. Labs will be done in groups.

Notes You must keep concise notes for all in-class work. These notes may be occasionally collected and graded randomly. Examples of good class notes will be available.