Newman Library, in collaboration with the College of Science, has opened their first SCALE-UP classroom.
The project, funded by alumni, was able to take shape in the last few months and has been open for classes since the beginning of February.
In Newman 100S, students will find eight tables of nine, flat screen TVs, laptops and white boards that line the room. The goal of the new classroom is to establish a more hands-on, interactive learning environment, where students are able to work at tables with other students and get feedback from professors who are able to walk freely around the classroom.
White boards give students and professors the chance to share ideas more freely. Students are encouraged to come to class with ideas to share in their smaller groups among each table, while making it visible for the entire class to see.
The concept of the SCALE-UP classroom came to Virginia Tech in 2011 when the College of Science raised money to have one put into Derring 3076. It has worked so efficiently for its department that it approached Newman over a year ago asking if it would be interested in including another SCALE-UP classroom on campus.
Robin Panneton, associate professor for the department of psychology, co-taught a class of graduate students and undergraduate students a few semesters ago in the Derring classroom. She said the classroom gives professors the opportunity to communicate with and blend student personalities to create the best fit for group projects and group discussions.
"If there is a weakness somewhere in a group — you get them with a strength from somewhere else,” Panneton said.
During her semester teaching, she saw increased attendance and professor interaction, stemming from the idea that students who work together tend to feel more comfortable in groups.
Time in the Newman classroom will be split 50/50 between the College of Science and Newman. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., classes will be held in the room. After 7 p.m., the room will open for students to use as a general study area and will be open all day on weekends.
Newman is working with a lot of flexibility with its time in the SCALE-UP classroom. Its main goal right now is to use the space and time to engage librarians with students by holding information sessions and workshops in the classroom.
Eventually, it looks to hold classes from all majors in the room.
Brian Mathews, associate dean for Learning and Outreach at Virginia Tech, who worked closely with the construction plans and implementation of the classroom, sees great opportunity to try out different learning styles.
“(It's) a hybrid type of classroom setting where we can take a computer science class and a tech writing class that may overlap on an assignment," he said. "That’s some of the kinds of things we would like to explore.”
In the next few weeks, students will be seeing a variety of changes being implemented in the library including large screen TVs on the second floor and study walls to encourage more organized group work.
Mathews explains the reason for the recent changes saying, “If it’s aesthetically pleasing but also technology rich and collaborative friendly, that’s the kind of behavior we want to encourage.”
The official ribbon cutting for the SCALE-UP classroom, located on the first floor of Newman will be this March 7.