UCLA Online Engineering Program Again Ranked Best in the Nation by US News

Published in UCLA Newsroom

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA online master’s degree program has been named the nation’s best by U.S. News and World Report for the second consecutive year. The Master of Science in Engineering Online program is designed for engineering professionals who seek to advance their skill sets and career opportunities. MSOL students can earn a master’s degree in two years through classes that are delivered completely online.

Presenting Clicker Questions with an Open- vs. Closed- Response Format

Published in the December 2015 Issue of Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education

This study offers some evidence of the benefits of using open clicker questions (not revealing the multiple response options at first), specifically highlighting  a positive impact on middle performing students.

Abstract: Active learning can improve student learning but can be more difficult to use in large classrooms.  Course response systems (clickers) can be used to increase active learning and student discussion.  In this study, students in a large introductory biology course were given clicker questions in different formats. Students were first presented with an open response question on a PowerPoint slide where no potential answers were visible. After peer discussion, the same question was presented with potential answers in a multiple choice format and students used their clickers to answer.  For comparison, the same questions were asked in a different section of the same course but all questions were in the standard multiple choice format.  The results show that C students perform better when required to create their own answer for the question.  The instructor also noted that student discussions were longer, most likely because students had to discuss the biology rather than just confirming a specific answer choice.

[Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education; Vol. 16, No 2; pp: 254-255]

2015 NSF Teaching and Learning Video Showcase

NSF Video Collection

As we begin 2016, highlighted here is a showcase of 3-minute videos with online discussion that illustrate innovative work to improve science, math, engineering, and computer science education  collected through a cross-center NSF event hosted in 2015.  This year’s  2016 showcase theme is  “broadening participation and increasing access to quality STEM and CS learning experiences” and videos will be collected through the end of April. View the video collection, learn more about this project, and consider submitting a video for the 2016 showcase here: http://resourcecenters2015.videohall.com/.

PhET Interactive Simulations for Physics, Math, Chemistry, and Biology

Open Educational Research (OER)

PhET simulations are open educational resources available for faculty to use. This program founded by Carl Wieman at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has grown over the past decade with additional faculty involvement and support from a team of developers to create the growing library which hosts over 100 simulations. Click here to view an example of a simulation on molecule structure.

You can view the full library by visiting their website: http://phet.colorado.edu.

Can the Student Course Evaluation be Redeemed?

November Issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Critiques of course evaluations came this year from Carl E. Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, who cast doubt on their validity and reliability. He proposed that professors should instead complete an inventory of the research-based teaching practices they use. He argues that such an inventory would be more likely to promote learning than traditional evaluation methods, which fail to document teaching practices that lead to improvements in student learning outcomes. The IDEA Center, a 40-year-old nonprofit that spun off from Kansas State University, has developed a student-ratings system that they propose is a better tool than course evaluations. This article summarizes the tool and provides examples of its use at other campuses.

Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills

August Issue of Science

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate students are often encouraged to maximize their engagement with supervised research and minimize teaching obligations. However, the process of teaching students engaged in inquiry provides practice in the application of important research skills. Using a performance rubric, we compared the quality of methodological skills demonstrated in written research proposals for two groups of early career graduate students (those with both teaching and research responsibilities and those with only research responsibilities) at the beginning and end of an academic year. After statistically controlling for preexisting differences between groups, students who both taught and conducted research demonstrate significantly greater improvement in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design valid experiments. These results indicate that teaching experience can contribute substantially to the improvement of essential research skills. [Science 19 August 2011, Vol. 333, pp. 1037-1039]

Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

Published by Purdue University Press

The book builds on the authors’ national reputations at the forefront of transformative undergraduate education research, and provides an overview of the context and challenges in STEM higher education.  Contributed chapters describe programs and research in this area, reflect lessons from many perspectives, and describe suggested next steps in the path toward an aspirational new normal for STEM teaching and learning. You may order directly from the publisher and receive a 20% discount on print and electronic versions of this title by using code: PURDUE20.  This title also is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Professor Neil Garg named 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching California Professor of the Year

Neil Garg, professor and vice chair for education in UCLA’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, has been selected as the 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching California Professor of the Year. He was honored at the U.S. Professors of the Year awards banquet and congressional reception in Washington, D.C. in November. Garg’s innovative teaching techniques help his students to master difficult concepts and solve complex problems. Learn more about his teaching in the UCLA newsroom article.