Transforming Teaching in the LS Core (LS7ABC)

The UCLA Department of Life Sciences Core Curriculum (LS Core) offers a series of four 10-week introductory biology courses (LS 1,2,3,4) designed to annually prepare approximately 8,000 UCLA undergraduate enrollees for entry into any one of 12 Life Science majors. Each course is taught six times during the school year and twice during the summer. Courses are taught by ladder faculty from six Life Science departments as well as three full-time, dedicated biology educators.

Prior to 2014, all four LS Core courses were taught using primarily a traditional lecture-based format accompanied by weekly discussion sections led by graduate student TAs. Published reports showing the advantages of active learning (Freeman et al. 2014) called for a significant change in pedagogy for all four LS courses, with a plan devised to transition them to highly structured flipped classrooms (Haak et al. 2011).

As part of an IUSE grant, background material for these courses will be delivered in an online learning environment, allowing instructors to adopt student-centered pedagogical approaches during class. The inverted format should create time for active learning during class without displacing content (Moravec et al. 2010, Prunuske et al. 2012). It should also foster critical thinking skills, improve student performance and attitudes, and decrease the achievement gap between high-performing and low-performing students (e.g., Armbruster et al. 2009, Haak et al. 2011). The assessment plan will monitor these student outcomes as well as the impact on faculty attitudes and practice during this transition.

For more information, please contact Professor and Project Co-PI Frank Laski (