CEILS is hiring! Program Representative position available to support and coordinate the SoCal Regional Collaborative

The Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences is hiring a Regional Coordinator (Program Rep II). The Regional Coordinator will fulfill the goals identified by the NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Aspire – A National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty. Responsibilities include working to build communication channels that strengthen professional relationships among Southern California’s 2- and 4- year institutions, coordinating the launch of a regional internship program for graduate students and other working professionals interested in teaching at a community college, and providing general administrative and logistical support for these outreach efforts.

Learn more about the SoCal collaborative and view the job posting here:


In Memoriam: Jenessa Shapiro

Jenessa Shapiro, Associate Professor with appointments in UCLA’s Psychology Department and the Anderson School of Management, and an expert in stereotype threat, discrimination and prejudices, died Dec. 6 after a long illness. She was 38.

Shapiro was an award-winning scholar of stereotype threat and prejudice in intergroup relations and she had a reputation as a rigorous and creative researcher. She sought to understand prejudice and discrimination from the perspective of those who hold them as well as those targeted by them. It was not easy work, as she often conducted research within hard-to-recruit populations, including women in traditionally male-dominated fields and underserved minority populations. We here in CEILS were privileged to work with Professor Shapiro and appreciate her expert contributions to our workshops for faculty and graduate student teaching assistants. Our sincere condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. We are grateful for the positive impact she made during her time with us.

Learn more about Janessa’s work and impact from UCLA newsroom.

Tech Knowledge Is Power

U.S. News

Big data and automation are the future, but Americans need to understand the technology lest they become pawns of Silicon Valley. When it comes to big data, automation, robots and machine learning, for instance, change happens almost daily, and the learning curve is steep. Millions of people across this country are sitting in the dark on some of the most critical issues of our day because the “magic” behind these technologies – that magic being engineering – is a foreign language.

Representation of Industry in Introductory Biology Textbooks: A Missed Opportunity to Advance STEM Learning

– CBE Life Sciences

The majority of students who enroll in undergraduate biology courses will eventually be employed in non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) business occupations. This work explores how representations of industry in undergraduate biology textbooks could impact STEM learning for these students and their ability to apply this learning in their chosen work.

Recognizing and Reducing Barriers to Science and Math Education and STEM Careers for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

– CBE Life Sciences

Climate change is impacting the Pacific Islands first and most drastically, yet few native islanders are trained to recognize, analyze, or mitigate the impacts in these islands. To understand the reasons why low numbers of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders enter colleges, enroll in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, or undertake life sciences/STEM careers, 25 representatives from colleges and schools in seven U.S.-affiliated states and countries across the Pacific participated in a 2-day workshop.

Ex-Academics Still Aren’t Being Consulted on Graduate-Education Reform

– ChronicleVitae

Pursuing a doctoral degree has tremendous costs, even when the degree is “fully funded.” Doctoral students fall behind their peers with B.A.s and M.A.s in many significant ways, and not just financially. Because doctoral training is, by and large, not suited for most nonacademic careers, Ph.D.s who leave the academy must often learn radically new skills for jobs that do not — and never will — require a doctorate. Some of those new skills are antithetical to doctoral training.

“Is This Class Hard?” Defining and Analyzing Academic Rigor from a Learner’s Perspective

– CBE Life Sciences

Despite its value in higher education, academic rigor is a challenging construct to define for instructor and students alike. How do students perceive academic rigor in their biology course work? Using qualitative surveys, students were asked to identify “easy” or “hard” courses and define which aspects of these learning experiences contributed to their perceptions of academic rigor.

Culture and Equity in Science Classrooms

– CBE Life Sciences

The Current Insights feature is intended to highlight diverse perspectives on teaching, learning and cognition from outside life sciences education. In this installment, the author features recent examples of scholarship examining the intersections between culture and equity in science education. The articles in this set build on intuitions we may hold as biology educators and researchers: The first is that cultural differences can perpetuate inequities in science education. The second is that cultural diversity is beneficial to science learning for all students.

Is It Ever OK to Lecture?

Telling is a time-tested and efficient way to communicate information. Just try to keep the strengths and weaknesses of lecturing in mind. The most effective teaching involves looking to communicate information in inefficient ways — that is, in ways that make students work to understand the information, and not just listen passively. So when we lecture, we need to:

  • Supplement periods of telling with activities in which students can then put to use the information we tell them.
  • Design activities that allow students to integrate the new information into their prior knowledge and make new concepts.
  • Think about how to prime students to receive a lecture, by creating activities that reveal to them the gaps in their own knowledge.

A big benefit of engaging students in active learning is that it reveals — to us and to them — what they don’t yet understand. With lecturing, we can tell them all we want, but whether they’re listening is anyone’s guess.