Attitudes

Student attitudes are nearly as difficult to assess as they are to improve. In fact, student attitudes about science typically decline after a year of traditional instruction (as measured on the Maryland Physics Expectation Survey). SCALE-UP students attitudes improve (albeit slightly) on the MPEX. Other measures lead us to think we are, in fact, leading students toward more positive attitudes.

Consider these two excerpts from interviews and the insight they provide into students' attitudes about their fellow students:

"I can deal with the lecture class, it is just that I enjoy more...getting more into the interactive projects. It is more hands on. If you don’t understand something you just ask the guy next to you, nobody yells at you for talking."
 
" …you have your professor right in the middle and you have a couple of guys spread out and you can flag them down –‘Hey, can you answer this question for me?’ In the lecture, you are sitting 100 rows back, 25 rows back, you really don't have anyone but the two people next to you and they don't know. You really don't have anyone with some knowledge to help you out."

A coarse measure of student interest in the class is by checking attendance. We have data from the same instructor in lecture and SCALE-UP settings with the same non-required attendence policy. Notice that not only are the average attendance rates substantially different, but the variation in the traditional class rate is much larger--some students attend most of the time, but some attend very rarely. This pattern is not seen in the SCALE-UP classes.

 
Lecture/Lab
SCALE-UP
# Classes
2
6
# Students
188
342
% Attendance
74.3
90.3
Standard Deviation
24.3
11.6