We will establish a training program for postdoctoral fellows called UCLA Postdocs' Longitudinal Investment in Faculty Training or UPLIFT. This program involves training in innovative active learning pedagogy from UCLA's Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) course and the Center for Education Innovation in the Life Sciences (CEILS). This will be followed by a mentored teaching experience at our partner institution, California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). CSULA comprises ~70% underrepresented minorities (URMs) in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It has low 6-year graduation rates in the Biochemistry and Biology majors. Individual instructors using traditional lecture format currently teach the Introductory Biology and Introduction to Biochemistry courses. Our scholars will team teach these courses with their CSULA mentors and convert them to an active learning format that incorporates numerous flipped lectures in the scholars' and mentors' areas of expertise. UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) will formatively evaluate the program using state-of-the-art assessment approaches. The evaluation data will be used to evolve the courses annually with each new round of scholars building upon and improving class activities from the previous round. Our goal is to reach a steady state of 18 scholars to accelerate transition of CSULA courses to active learning. We will test the hypothesis that by incorporating active learning technology, shown in numerous studies to enhance retention of URMs, we will augment CSULA's retention rate and time-to-degree for Biology and Biochemistry majors. UCLA's research training faculty includes 66 outstanding scientists -- 9 are members of the National Academy of Sciences -- chosen for their records of leadership, scholarship, teaching and mentoring. The training faculty cover a wide breadth of research topics employing the newest technologies. All training faculty participate in intramural, disciplin-specific research activities that allow scholars numerous opportunities to present their research and receive feedback from multiple faculty. Recent PhDs with outstanding research credentials and a commitment to teaching will be actively recruited. Stipend support in year 1 derives from the research mentors, while support in years 2-4 will be IRACDA. In year 1, the trainees will perform research and participate in the PFF course and the CEILS workshops at UCLA. In the following years, trainees will continue research, learn the flipped lecture format in UCLA's Life Sciences Core, and teach an increasing number of CSULA class sessions from years 2 to 3. Course preparation will involve mentoring by faculty at the partner institution while the trainees develop active learning modules. The teaching will be closely monitored by the mentors, program directors and HERI using Classroom Observation Protocols for Undergraduate STEM, which specifically measures active learning. In year 4, the focus will be largely in research. The broad-based administrative support for UPLIFT assures a commitment at UCLA and CSULA to the development of a new generation of highly effective faculty trained in active learning and URM retention.
The research interests of the UCLA training faculty span many areas that are directly relevant to human health, including stem cell biology, mechanisms of oncogenesis, epigenetic regulation of development, and mechanisms of pathogenesis. By contributing to these fields of investigation, the postdoctoral trainees to be supported by this program will make vital contributions to the treatment of disease both in the United States and abroad. Furthermore, the improved teaching skills that the trainees will take to their future jobs as university faculty members should lead to better-trained health professionals and therefore higher quality health care.
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