The goal of this project, which is funded by an NSF IUSE grant, is to transform the first year mathematics and statistics series at UCLA into a curriculum that incorporates biological examples and computational exercises using student-centered pedagogies. This initiative serves all Life Sciences departments, enhancing quantitative reasoning skills and improving persistence of students in STEMmajors. This project is expanding to include Physics and Chemistry courses required of UCLA LifeScience majors.
This projected is focused on the implementation of a new math curriculum, which is comprised of two math courses (LS30A and LS30B) and a statistics course (Stats 13). Integrated throughout the curriculum are biology-relevant content and computational applications. Instructors also are exploring ways to incorporate student-centered pedagogy demonstrated to be effective in large-enrollment math courses. Collaborative learning workshops for students in the Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS) have been developed to complement the new math courses and provide significant support for underrepresented racial minority (URM) students most at risk for leaving STEM. Many of the mathematical and computational skills that are essential to modern biological research are not taught in a traditional first-year calculus course. Ascribed to the wide variation in high school preparation, all entering freshmen do not start out with the same foundational knowledge. As a result, some students underperform compared with their peers and/or become disenfranchised by ineffective instructional approaches and content that lacks biological examples relevant to their intended major. Many then transfer out of STEM fields. Development of the new math and statistics curriculum was inspired by an urgent need to update both the content and pedagogy of the first year math series for Life Science majors. This course sequence, taught in the Life Sciences Core Education Department, serves as an alternative to the traditional calculus sequence (Math 3A, 3B, 3C) offered by the Mathematics Department. The assessment plan monitors the attitudes and perceptions of student in the new curriculum, their performance in subsequent STEM courses, and their persistence toward intended STEM degrees
For more information, please contact Professor and Project PI Blaire VanValkenburgh (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).