UCLA Team Attends Conference on Biology Education Research

(Back, Left to Right: Elizabeth Roth-Johnson, Jordan Moberg Parker, Marc Levis-Fitzgerald, Christopher Lee; Front, Left to Right: Shanna Shaked (and Quin), Jessica Gregg, Erin Sanders, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Gaston Pfluegl, Rachel Kennison; In attendance but not pictured: Frank Laski, Kristin McCully and Nadia Sellami)

On January 14-15, 2017 a group of UCLA faculty and staff were proud to take part in SABER West 2017– the first regional Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER)  conference, held at the University of California, Irvine.  UCLA’s recent efforts in biology education research were represented through presentations and poster sessions in addition to participating in networking events.

Research Article – Logged In and Zoned Out: How Laptop Internet Use Relates to Classroom Learning

Published in the Association for Psychological Science

Abstract: Laptop computers are widely prevalent in university classrooms. Although laptops are a valuable tool, they offer access to a distracting temptation: the Internet. In the study reported here, the authors assessed the relationship between classroom performance and actual Internet usage for academic and nonacademic purposes.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography

Academic research plays an important role in uncovering bias and helping to shape a more equal society. But academia also struggles to adequately confront persistent and entrenched gender bias in its own corridors. Here Danica Savonick and Cathy N. Davidson have aggregated and summarised over twenty research articles on gender bias in academe, a crucial resource for International Women’s Day.

This piece is part of a wider series on Women in Academia and coincides with LSE Women: making history – a campaign in celebration of #LSEwomen past, present and future.


How to Integrate Growth Mindset Messages into Every Part of Math Class

Catherine Good has experienced stereotype threat herself, although she didn’t know it at the time. She started her academic career in pure math, expecting to get a Ph.D. But somewhere along the way she started to feel like it just wasn’t for her, even though she was doing well in all her classes. Thinking that she’d just chosen the wrong application for her love of math, Good switched to math education, where she first encountered the idea of stereotype threat from a guest psychology speaker.

“As he talked about students feeling that they don’t really belong, I had an epiphany,” Good said. She realized the discomfort she’d felt studying mathematics had nothing to do with her ability or qualifications and everything to do with a vague sense that she didn’t belong in a field dominated by men. Stereotype threat is a term coined by psychologists Joshua Aronson and Claude Steele. They found that pervasive cultural stereotypes that marginalize groups, like “girls aren’t good at math,” create a threatening environment and affects academic achievement.


Reaching “New Majority” Students

College students today are increasingly different from those of previous generations. They are less likely to be white and more likely to be the first in their families to go to college. Professors who would like to guide these first-generation college students in adjusting to higher education may come across their own challenges. Communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds can become a barrier unto itself.

In her new book, Breakthrough Strategies: Classroom-Based Practices to Support New Majority Students (Harvard Education Press), Sister Kathleen Ross, director of the Institute of Student Identity and Success at Heritage University and founding president of the university, outlines various approaches for professors to connect with and teach first-generation, underrepresented students — or “new majority students,” as Ross calls them.