The UCLA Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS) is an intensive program committed to promoting academic excellence and professional development for students dedicated to careers in the life or physical sciences or mathematics. The primary objective of the program is to increase the number of students who develop a strong foundation in the sciences and make teaching and/or research a part of their life’s work.

About

PEERS is a two-year program that serves newly admitted STEM majors during their freshman and sophomore years.  PEERS is designed to facilitate the transition to UCLA, prepare students to excel as science majors, and promote undergraduate research.

A major goal of PEERS is to increase retention of underrepresented and under-served student populations.  To achieve this goal, PEERS students (1) are enrolled as a cohort into core courses in math, physics and chemistry, (2) participate in collaborative learning workshops that complement courses in their core science curriculum, (3) receive counseling and career planning advice from dedicated academic counselors (4) attend seminar courses focused on for academic success strategies, science career options and importance of undergraduate research, and (5) attend research colloquia presented by leading scientists at UCLA.  Through these activities, PEERS students earn higher grades in their science classes, have higher overall GPAs, and graduate faster than their PEERS.  This academic success combined with integrated program activities that foster a sense of community results in PEERS students having significantly higher retention rates in science and participation in undergraduate research.

How to Create a PEERS-like Retention Program for Freshmen and Sophomore Science Majors at 4-year Institutions

I. Introduction to PEERS

I. Introduction to PEERS

a. Problem (retention)
b. Approach to Solving Problems: PEERS
c. 4 Pillars to the Program, Literature-based Design

i. Collaborative Learning Workshops for Introductory Science Courses
ii. Counseling
iii. Exposure to Research
iv. Seminar Courses (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 97X)

a. Time Management and Study Skills
b. Career Development and Entry into Research

II. Nuts and Bolts

a. Recruitment of Students
b. Application Process
c. Selection of Participants
d. Campus Partners
e. Communication
f. Staffing
g. Enrollment Management and Course Creation

III. Curriculum and Components

III. Curriculum and Components

a. Two Seminar Courses (EEB97X)

i. Syllabi for freshmen and sophomore seminars
ii. Assignments
iii. In-class notes for the instructor

b. Exposure to Research

i. Poster Symposium (Peer-to-Peer)
ii. Science Poster Day
iii. Lab Tours
iv. Informational sessions to learn about research programs on campus
v. Research talks by Faculty (6 per year)

c. Collaborative Learning Workshops

i. Treisman Pedagogical Approach
ii. Suggested Training Materials
iii. How to select graduate students as faciliators
iv. Sample materials for chemistry, math, and physics workshops

d. Counseling

i. Timeline (different counselors at different time points in program)
ii. Sample topics per term

e. Advising/Mentoring (long-term commitment to working with students through graduation)

i. Letters of Recommendation
ii. Career Counseling

IV. Outcomes and Assessments

a. Faculty Advisory Board

i. Cross-campus, cross-disciplinary, all stakeholders (faculty, counselors, diversity champions) represented
ii. Sounding board for challenges and problems encountered with program

b. Logic Model

i. Examples: Assessment Instruments
ii. Examples: Institutional Data Queries

c. Assessment of Entry into Research

V. Funding Suggestions

VI. Keywords and Glossary

VII. References

Please refer to the following link for a list of References.

To learn more about PEERS: Please contact Tama Hasson, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research at UCLA: thasson@college.ucla.edu