2018 Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching | Group Photo

What is UCLA’s Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching?

UCLA’s Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching is a 4-day professional development opportunity for current STEM faculty and instructors as well as future STEM faculty who are interested in an academic career that involves teaching and mentoring diverse undergraduates. The goal of the Summer Institute (SI) is to help faculty and instructors develop the teaching, assessment, and classroom observation skills they need to begin an evidence-based curricular transformation of their undergraduate STEM classrooms. The SI draws on the pedagogical expertise and STEM content knowledge of both facilitators and participants. Current education research on active learning, assessment, reflective practice, and inclusive teaching are woven into the program, creating a forum to share ideas and develop innovative instructional materials to be implemented during the following academic year.

Who should attend UCLA’s SI?

We invite UCLA faculty and instructors from all departments and interdisciplinary programs in the Life and Physical Sciences as well as Engineering and Computer Science to apply.

Postdoctoral teaching fellows such as those in UPLIFT and the Chemistry/Biochemistry Teaching Scholars programs are encouraged to apply.  We also invite graduate student Teaching Assistant Consultants (TACs) for UCLA’s 495 TA training courses to apply.

In addition, we welcome applications from institutional members of the Southern California Regional Collaborative, a regional network of 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities united in their efforts to improve STEM education outcomes. Please check out our partners list to see if your institution is a member.

NOTE: The national Summer Institutes program offers regional workshops open to faculty and instructors from other institutions.  Please click here for more information.

When will the SI take place?

This year UCLA’s Summer Institute will take place July 15-18, 2019.

CEILS will continue to offer this professional development program every other year, so the next one will be in summer 2021. When selecting dates, we do try to alternate between summer sessions A and C to help accommodate summer teaching schedules.

Additional Information:

Participants in the Summer Institute (SI) will be inspired and given agency to transform learning and teaching through evidence-based iterative practice. The goal of the SI is to transform undergraduate education at colleges and universities by improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classroom instruction. With the support of experienced facilitators (who are SI alumni themselves), we undertake to train faculty, instructional staff, and future faculty in a scientific approach to teaching that reflects the way we work as researchers. Each cohort is comprised of both new and experienced instructors who typically teach larger-enrollment, introductory or gateway courses. Each SI will generally have approximately 30-35 individuals in attendance.

The theme for the SI is “scientific teaching.” Participants learn practical strategies for enhancing student learning. The SI models the scientific teaching principles of active learning, assessment, and inclusive teaching, which are integrated into all aspects of the program. Activities include reflective writing, planning, reading, researching, discussing teaching methods and philosophy, interactive presentations, and developing teaching materials. By the end of the SI, participants will have observed, evaluated, and collected a portfolio of innovative teaching approaches and instructional materials that are ready to be adopted and adapted to their own teaching environments.

The Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching emerged from the 2003 National Research Council report, Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. The report concludes that faculty development is a crucial component of improving undergraduate education. It recommends that universities provide faculty with opportunities to refine classroom techniques and better integrate math and science concepts. The Summer Institute (SI) brings STEM faculty and instructional staff together to improve education by integrating current scientific research and pedagogical approaches to create courses that actively engage students in the ways that scientists think. The SI also provides a venue for university faculty and instructional staff to meet for intensive discussions, demonstrations, and working sessions on research-based approaches to undergraduate education. The idea is to create the same atmosphere as a Cold Spring Harbor research course, but instead of a course topic on phage genetics, for example, the focus is on teaching STEM courses.

In its call for new directions and transformation in teaching the biological sciences, the 2011 report produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education, repeatedly cites the Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching and the teaching approach it models models for improving undergraduate STEM education.

The Summer Institute enables participants to answer the following questions:

  • What is scientific teaching? What are some challenges I might need to address in implementing scientific teaching strategies?

  • How can I create and sustain a more inclusive learning environment for my students through scientific teaching?

  • How can scientific evidence inform the teaching practices that I implement?

  • How can I use backward design to align learning outcomes, assessments, and active learning/interactive engagement strategies?

  • What modes of assessment can I use to promote student learning and inform instruction?

  • How does cognitive science research lay the foundation for the scientific teaching approaches and practices to use in my classroom?

  • How can I implement and disseminate scientific teaching in my community?

You can expect to do the following during the Summer Institute:

  • Engage in teaching and learning through sessions that model scientific teaching, use of supporting evidence from the literature, and inclusive teaching
  • Activities may include interactive presentations, mini-seminars, group work, discussions with other participants, and opportunities for reflection
  • Work in small groups with peers at UCLA, along with a trained facilitator, to develop instructional materials
  • Design and adapt instructional materials with clearly defined learning goals and outcomes that integrate themes of active learning/interactive engagement, assessment, and inclusive teaching
  • Present instructional materials to other participants for feedback and review; revise materials for dissemination where appropriate

Below is a draft schedule for the week. If you have professional or personal obligations that overlap with the mandatory sessions (marked with an asterisk *), please contact CEILS Director Erin Sanders (erins@ceils.ucla.edu) who will discuss your situation with you and may advise you to postpone your participation in the SI.

   Monday (7/15)

   Tuesday (7/16)

   Wednesday (7/17)

   Thursday (7/18)

9 am –   12:30 pm *Welcome, Establishing our Learning Community

*Workshop: Inclusivity & Diversity

*Workshop: Backwards Design in Action *Workshop: Scholarly Teaching

Workshop: Peer Mentoring and Feedback 

*Group Presentations (part I)
1:30 pm
*Lunch *Lunch (group photo) *Lunch *Lunch
5 pm
*Workshop: Scientific Teaching Showcase

iClicker demo/pick up instructor kits (optional)

*Work in Groups w/ Mentors on Teaching Tidbit

*Do Si Do (discussion/feedback on group tidbit)

*Work in Groups w/ Mentors on Teaching Tidbit

*Do Si Do (discussion/feedback on group tidbit)

*Group Presentations (part II)

*Wrap-Up / Action Planning for Peer Observations

Reception & Celebration!
(optional; please invite colleagues; families welcome)

As a participant you are required to:
  • Actively engage in all mandatory workshops and activities (marked with asterisk * on sample schedule) for all four days of the Summer Institute (SI)
  • Incorporate scientific teaching practices into your teaching during the 2019-20 academic year by using the instructional materials developed at the SI and/or adapting the principles and practices learned at the SI into your own teaching
  • Participate in assessment of the Summer Institute (including pre/post surveys and follow-up surveys) during the SI and in the academic year that follows your participation in the SI
  • Observe and provide feedback to one other peer from the Summer Institute during the year, as well as have this person or another SI peer come observe your class and provide feedback to you
  • Attend at least 2 quarterly follow-up meetings (and social events!) during the 2019-20 year.

Additionally, participants are asked to:

  • Present your teachable tidbit or discuss your experiences from the Summer Institute at a departmental meeting/event or a disciplinary conference
  • Recruit a colleague to participate in the Summer Institute next year

Participants are strongly encouraged to do one of the following in the year following your participation in the SI:

  • Volunteer to facilitate a breakout session at the annual Faculty Workshop on Best Practices in Teaching (Sept. 19, 2019)
  • Present at CEILS Education Research Journal Club (meets Fridays 2-3 pm during academic year)
  • Engage as co-facilitator at next year’s Summer Institute
  • Co-facilitate a CEILS Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) workshop on a topic that interests you or a group of faculty, instructors, or teaching assistants in your department
  • Co-facilitate a CIRTL@UCLA workshop, course, or learning community meeting
  • Experienced facilitators, mentors, and presenters to provide advice and expertise to help you develop and hone teaching materials

  • Resources to help you develop and assess teaching skills and instructional materials

  • Access to teaching materials developed by previous Summer Institute participants (check out website for national organization)

  • A newsletter and website to connect with the national network of SI alumni

During the Summer Institute you will reflect on and develop skills listed within the following four areas:





Articulate elements of scientific teaching

Improve your ability to use education literature to support teaching practices

Apply evidence-based teaching practices

Address/confront misconceptions about teaching and learning

Be inspired to implement scientific teaching

Appreciate evidence-based practices

Recognize that diversity influences teaching and learning

Commit to incorporating scientific teaching practices

Be empowered to transform your students’ learning

Implement backwards design when developing courses and/or curricula

Employ inclusive teaching strategies that value diversity in the classroom

Use a variety of assessments to measure student learning

Incorporate active learning exercises to engage students

Develop short-term and long-term plans for implementation and dissemination

Become part of a national community of scientific teachers

Advocate for scientific teaching in your department

Consider opportunities to lead scientific teaching initiatives regionally and/or nationally

How do I apply?

Thank you for your interest!  We are accepting applications for the summer 2019 cohort starting now through April 15th. Click here to complete and submit a short application to the program. Qualified applicants will be notified by email of their acceptance status by the first week of May.

Questions? Contact Erin Sanders, CEILS Director, at erins@ceils.ucla.edu.