Concurrent Workshops

2018 Southern California PKAL Regional Network Annual Meeting
March 10, 2018 | University of California Los Angeles 

Morning Workshops (concurrent, 90 minutes)

Workshop A. CREATE-ing Narratives to Improve Critical Thinking and Communication Skills
Presenters: Jordan Moberg Parker and Amanda Freise, University of California Los Angeles

This workshop will introduce a modified implementation of the CREATE process for analyzing primary literature, which has been demonstrated to improve students’ critical thinking and scientific communication skills. The goal of CREATE is for students to work through the data in scientific literature as if the they had generated it themselves.  This student-centered approach not only breaks down the scientific literature into manageable pieces, but also requires that students construct their own knowledge, rather than relying on instructors to interpret the science. The CREATE process is: Concept map the introduction; Read and cartoon methods; Elucidate hypotheses, making connections to methods; Analyze the results section, relating results to hypotheses, and Think of the next Experiment. The final step of the modified CREATE process is a comprehensive overall concept map where the students synthesize all of the steps. A key benefit of this modified CREATE process is that students must make explicit diagrammatical linkages connecting between the scientific question, rationale, hypotheses, methodologies, and results. The addition of concept mapping the entire paper allows students to visualize the flow of these ideas, which can then be translated into logical transitions in their oral and written scientific communication, and ultimately lead to a meaningful understanding of the scientific process.

Workshop B. Transforming Introductory STEM Courses
Presenters: Michael O'Sullivan, Naneh Apkarian, Daniel Reinholz, and William Zahner, San Diego State University

How can a multifaceted department improvement effort transform introductory STEM courses to promote student success? The purpose of this workshop is to explore research-based approaches for improving student success in high enrollment introductory courses such as Precalculus and Calculus. Across the country, student success rates in introductory undergraduate mathematics classes are unacceptably low. This has a dramatic effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands of students each year, diverting them from opportunities to pursue STEM careers and leaving them discouraged (PCAST, 2012). However, Bressoud, Mesa and Rasmussen (2015) describe a number of key features of successful introductory mathematics programs that begin to paint a picture of the way forward. This workshop is grounded in lessons learned from faculty and administrators at San Diego State University who over the past several years implemented these features to improve their Precalculus to Calculus 2 sequence, resulting in decreased DFW rates. Participants will leave this workshop with: 1) An understanding of how SDSU has enacted large-scale change and improved student success in the precalculus/calculus sequence; 2) An understanding of varying implementations of common program elements (e.g., tutoring centers, adaptive placement systems, course coordination) and how they support different student populations; 3) An actionable roadmap for tweaking aspects of their institution’s mathematics program in order to better support all students

Workshop C. Applying Asset-Based Frameworks to Promote Inclusivity and Equity
Presenters: Kristina Barger, Yesenia Hernadez, and Noe Mora, CSU Chancellor’s Office

The CSU STEM VISTA program advances the California State University’s (CSU) commitment to inclusivity, equity and student success in STEM. Our work is focused on eliminating race, class, and gender disparities in STEM. It is important to recognize that systems in the United States, including the CSU, were not created with people of color, working class people, and women in mind. This is particularly important in STEM degree programs where significant gaps by race and class already exist in enrollment, achievement, and graduation rates at all levels of education. In the CSU, STEM graduation rates are much lower than the national average (of the 28.5% of CSU students who declare a STEM major at entry, only 37% of those students will persist in STEM). These figures drastically decrease for students who are historically and currently underrepresented in STEM fields - 17% of students of color, 26% of first generation students, 29% of students from low-income families, and 34% of women graduate within six years with a STEM degree. As we work to eliminate the achievement gap in the CSU by 2025, we must shift from focusing on the deficits of students and why they fail, and instead recognize and value the strengths student bring to the classroom. Through inclusive language and changes to programmatic structures, our campuses can better address disparities in STEM (Yosso, 2005). This workshop will share will share asset-based frameworks and tools to transform our thinking and the language we use to talk about and with our students.

Workshop D. Inclusive Pedagogy: Finding the Right Approach for You and Your Context
Presenter: Colleen Lewis, Harvey Mudd College

The label “inclusive pedagogy” applies to hundreds of strategies that could help create an equitable and inclusive classroom. The right strategies for a particular faculty member to adopt depend upon their context, personality, and other constraints. For every inclusive pedagogy strategy faculty should ask themselves:

  • What problem does this solve?
  • Is this a problem within my context? 
  • How difficult is the strategy to adopt?
  • What benefit might result and for whom?

In this workshop attendees will:

  • learn about the problems that inclusive pedagogy attempts to address,
  • brainstorm what problems are most relevant within their context,
  • evaluate a large set of potential strategies to identify promising strategies for adoption,
  • share additional strategies to address some of the most pressing problems identified by attendees, and
  • learn about other places to find strategies for inclusive pedagogy.

Afternoon Workshops (concurrent, 90 minutes)

Workshop E. Creating Inclusive Classrooms
Presenters: Neil Grimsey, Justin Shaffer, Morgan Chabanon, and Stanley Lo, University of California San Diego

There is a quantifiable gap in the retention of women, underrepresented minority groups, and students with economic needs in the STEM disciplines (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). The success of students can often be attributed to a feeling of isolation, inadequacy or stress, in addition to whether they are able to relate and engage with the subject matter. This workshop will explore the diversity of student identities in our classrooms and learning environments. Through interactive discussions on research data from existing sociology and education literature, we will examine the implications of these diverse identities on how students learn, how instructors teach, and how we interact with students in and out of the classroom. Together, we will consider complex issues such as implicit associations, mindsets, and stereotype threat. Many studies have demonstrated a clear link between student underachievement and stereotype threat: a feeling of low self-worth based on an identity that the student relates to (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, religion). We will identify evidence-based strategies which counteract these issues and improve student learning outcomes across different institutional types and disciplines. Participants can expect to leave this workshop prepared to create more inclusive learning environments in their classrooms.

Workshop F. Active Learning in Chemistry: Using Toys, Simulations, and Data Analysis to Enhance Learning        Presenter: Jodye Selco, Cal Poly Pomona

Chemistry is difficult to learn since most of the processes are invisible and occur at the submicroscopic level. Using toys as analogies to chemicals enables learners to “imagine” what is unseen at the atomic level. Simulations also can help learners to visualize atoms, molecules, and chemical processes; these are especially helpful to illustrate difficult to learn topics such as equilibrium. Data analysis can help students actually understand relationships often “told” to them in lectures and texts since they have to make these connections themselves. Student response has been overwhelmingly positive; they report how these teaching strategies have helped them think critically about the content. Bring your own device and play along!

Workshop G. Strategies for Organizational Transformation in STEM Education
Presenters: Krystle Cobian, Sylvia Hurtado, Kevin Eagan, and Ana Gomez, University of California Los Angeles

Through an RO1 grant from the NIH, the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA has spent the past 12 years studying how higher education is contributing to national efforts to broaden and diversify STEM fields. This workshop aims to connect grant findings on institutional transformation in STEM teaching and learning with participants’ experiences and questions, to ultimately provide participants with strategies for escalating transformation at their own campuses. Presenters will provide background information about the grant, share the model of institutional transformation developed from study data, and engage participants in facilitated small group discussions based on topic interest to spark dialogue and obtain feedback on interactive research guides developed from key findings from the grant’s multiple studies. Lastly, participants will work on an institutional transformation mapping activity with the purpose of reflecting on aspects of the model that apply to their experience and campus context in order to develop realistic strategies and an action plan that is tailored to their institution. Participants will be provided with a link to all interactive research guides, as well as a link to all publications related to the grant for additional resources. The workshop aims to stimulate an ongoing conversation between higher education researchers and the SoCal PKAL community about how STEM education research can be best leveraged to address the gap of translating evidence-based practices to transformational change at institutions.

Workshop H. Facilitating Student Learning with Undergraduate Learning Assistants
Presenters: Shanna Shaked, Johnny Dang, Elizabeth Mills, and Suchi Amin, University of California Los Angeles

Incorporate peer-facilitated discussions, promote active learning techniques, and encourage student collaboration with undergraduate learning assistants! The Learning Assistant (LA) program seeks to enhance education by increasing peer instruction into the classroom. Based on the successful model implemented at CU Boulder in 2001, the Learning Assistant program has expanded to more than 200 member institutions. Research on the model has shown increases in student achievement and decreased failure rates in STEM gateway courses (Pollock, 2009; Otero, 2015). LAs enhance instruction by utilizing a wide range of evidence based techniques, including collaborative learning, formative assessment, asking guiding questions, and fostering a growth mindset. The three pillars of the LA model include (1) a weekly meeting with the content instructor to anticipate student questions about the activities; (2) LA facilitation of active and collaborative learning in discussion, lab and/or lecture, and (3) simultaneous enrollment in a pedagogy seminar to train new Learning Assistants. Guided weekly readings and reflections help learning assistants to critically think about their own performance that week and encourage personal growth. UCLA founded its LA program in 2016 and has increased to train more than 250 LAs per quarter, serving more than 8,000 students in more than 20 different courses each quarter, and thereby helping to transform these into more active classes. We have studied the wide range of LA programs to refine our program and add new elements. This workshop will (a) help you see the benefits of an LA-like model and (b) guide you in your choices as you set up or expand your own LA-like program.