Scaling up Active Collaborative Learning for Student Success
Our 'Scaling up Active Collaborative Learning for Student Success' project was led by NTU in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bradford. The project investigated institutional barriers to widespread adoption and evaluated the extent to which active, collaborative learning can reduce disparities in progression and attainment.
The aims of the Active Collaborative Learning project were threefold:
- increase the extent and quality of adoption of defined active collaborative learning pedagogies;
- test whether benefits for student success continue to be realised when these pedagogies are used at large scale; and,
- identify conditions needed for even greater institutional adoption.
What it was
Entitled Scaling up Active Collaborative Learning for Student Success, the project was one of 17 national collaborative projects selected for the HEFCE Catalyst programme Addressing barriers to student success. It was funded by the Office for Students and ran from March 2017 to February 2019, led by NTU Executive Dean of Learning and Teaching Jane McNeil in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bradford.
The project focussed on two active, collaborative learning approaches; the first approach SCALE-UP has been widely adopted across a diverse range of discipline areas at NTU. You can find out more about our SCALE-UP practice here. The second approach Team-Based Learning (TBL), is an active collaborative learning approach that shares much in common with SCALE-UP. TBL has been adopted by our project partners Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bradford.
The value of active collaborative learning approaches is widely recognised. Evidence in wider literature and an earlier institutional pilot showed that active collaborative learning might be beneficial in closing the unexplained gaps in student success, however it has proven challenging for HE institutions to adopt such types of learning strategically across courses and at institutional level.
The project was able to demonstrate that both SCALE-UP and TBL are associated with reduced progression and attainment gaps between groups of students, as well as improvements in attendance and engagement. In 2019, NTU received the Guardian University Award for Course and Curriculum Design for the achievements of SCALE-UP in reducing gaps between groups of students. We believe that our findings offer a valuable contribution to the sector and beyond in support of social mobility.
The project completed in February 2019; the draft report pending formal sign off by the Office for Students is available here. We continue to build on and extend our practice in the area of active, collaborative learning across the institution including SCALE-UP; and to welcome colleagues from across the sector to NTU to learn about SCALE-UP. In September 2018 we hosted a SCALE-UP ‘Expert Class’ for external colleagues. We also hosted an end-of-project conference at NTU in June 2019.