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Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning

MSU’s University Classroom Committee has spearheaded an effort to adopt innovative classroom designs to facilitate engaged and active learning.

To distinguish the unique design considerations and capabilities, we are calling these Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning (REAL).

REAL classroom spaces are specifically designed to enable lively interaction, enhanced learning, and increased faculty and student engagement.

Panoramic view of the new MSU Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning located in McDonel Hall.

In November 2012, MSU completed construction on the first two classrooms designed as REAL spaces in McDonel Hall. Faculty and instructors could apply to teach in REAL spaces beginning with 2013 Spring Semester courses.

MSU's REAL are based on principles from the Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) project, which originated at North Carolina State University to establish collaborative, hands-on, computer-rich, interactive learning areas. Other universities have also adopted the SCALE-UP model to fit their specific needs.

REAL spaces

REAL spaces feature an instructor station, four flat panel displays around the room, dual flat panel displays at each table, and whiteboards around the room for each table.

List of REAL spaces

  • Chemistry, 323
  • Ernst Bessey Hall, 310, 315
  • Erickson, 222
  • McDonel, Rooms 2, 38
  • MSU Union, Room 55

These rooms use 6-10 semi-circular tables and generally accommodate up to 60 students.

MSU SCALE-UP room design


These spaces are open to MSU tenured, tenure-track, and fixed-term faculty members, who must apply to if interested in teaching in REAL spaces.

The REAL Academy for Faculty will provide training the semester before teaching a course in REAL spaces.

REAL Academy training includes:

  • Academy Class 1: Welcome and Background on SCALE-UP; Introduction to Active Learning
  • Academy Class 2: Matching Course Design with Active Learning Pedagogy
  • Academy Class 3: Matching Active Learning Pedagogy with Affordances of Technology
  • Academy Class 4: REAL Faculty Showcase and Next Steps

Application process

1.  Fill out the application on why you are interested in this model and how you plan to use the space. The application requires a Departmental Chairperson signature.

2.  Submit the application to Sev Grabski, Wills House, 287 Delta Court, East Lansing, MI 48824.

2.  Participate in the REAL Faculty Academy training to learn more about upside-down pedagogies and how to use the equipment in the rooms.

3.  Report on your experiences and helping train the next group of REAL participants.

If accepted, training and support will take place the semester prior to teaching in a REAL space.

Questions can be directed to Sev Grabski.