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My name is Katie Foote.  I’m currently working as a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand to bring studio teaching to their introductory physics courses.  I received my Ph.D. in Physics Education Research at North Carolina State University under the supervision of Dr. Robert Beichner, the developer of SCALE-UP in the mid-1990s.

Student Centered Active Learning with Upside-down Pedagogy integrates lab, “lecture” and tutorial in a classroom redesigned to emphasize the students’ learning over the instructor’s lecturing.  You’ll find students working on interesting problems as they sit around round tables, presenting using whiteboards on the wall and instructors roaming around since the classroom has no obvious front.  Originally, SCALE-UP was designed as an economic alternative to the traditional lecture+lab format for large enrollment university physics courses while using furniture and pedagogy to encourage instructors to use research-based teaching techniques.  The benefits were already well documented by the time I arrived at NC State and include increased attendance, improved conceptual learning and problem solving, increased retention (especially of underrepresented groups), improved attitudes toward science and more.  Now, similar approaches have spread throughout the world, across disciplines and in classrooms of various sizes.

My Ph.D. thesis used SCALE-UP as a case study to investigate larger questions regarding disseminating, implementing and sustaining the use of educational innovations.  In addition to engaging with these questions through theoretical research, I have sought opportunities to spread innovative teaching practices worldwide.  I have observed classes and/or given talks at prestigious universities worldwide including National University of Singapore, University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Cheng Chung University in Taiwan, University of Tokyo in Japan, University of Queensland in Australia and more.  My talk helped convince the physics department at University of Sao Paulo to adopt SCALE-UP and they had me run faculty training workshops to prepare their staff.  My experiences in graduate school convinced me that the studio approach greatly benefits student learning but also has remarkable potential to catalyze, spread and sustain teaching innovation.

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Before: University of Auckland Stage One Lab

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After: University of Auckland Studio Classroom

In my current position, I convinced the University of Auckland physics department to adopt studio in their introductory courses and I have been heavily involved with every step of the reform.  I have provided advice for renovating the Stage One laboratory (see above), designed the curriculum, recommended equipment, trained instructional staff, set up evaluation procedures and more.  I taught and coordinated Physics 120 during the pilot semester of Studio Physics.  I contributed to the overall physics departmental review, advising how to integrate active learning to Stage Two and Three courses, even when they are taught in traditional environments.  I also earned curriculum development grants from the University to supervise students developing (1) more open-ended labs with an argument-based “extended abstract” report format and (2) developing Jupyter Notebook skeletal programs and YouTube tutorials to explicitly incorporate computation in the second semester course.

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My Engineering and Design class in China with their catapults, balsa bridges and Green towers

In addition to championing for innovative teaching practices, I enjoy teaching and look forward to taking on a larger course load.  I have taught a section of the introductory physics course at the University of Auckland, experimenting with open-ended pre-lecture questions and clicker questions during class.  As a graduate student, I spent three semesters co-teaching a Modern Physics for Engineers course and converting it into a studio format.  I participated in several professional development opportunities that allowed me to teach at nearby Meredith College.  I have also spent several summers as an instructor for Duke Talent Identification Program in China and India, as well as shorter programs in the United States, teaching an active, project based engineering course for gifted and talented 7th-10th graders.

I am originally from Farmington, Connecticut, USA. I received my Bachelors degree in Applied Physics & Physics Secondary Education from Providence College. In addition to my interest in physics and innovative instruction, I love to travel and have visited almost 70 countries on 6 continents.

I hope you enjoy my website. Please contact me if you have any questions!