Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL)

cirtl2-logoThe Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. CIRTL uses graduate education as the leverage point to develop a national STEM faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of successful professional careers. The goal of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby to increase the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation.

To prepare the future STEM faculty of the nation, CIRTL must influence graduate-through-faculty preparation in teaching and learning at a significant number of research universities. Building on the CIRTL Core ideas, we propose to achieve this goal through a learning community of diverse research universities mutually engaged in teaching-as-research activities.

Established in fall 2006, the CIRTL Network was comprised of Howard University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Vanderbilt University. After a substantial expansion in 2016, the Network now includes 46 research universities across the nation (including UCLA). The diversity of these institutions—private/public; large/moderate size; majority-/minority-serving; geographic location—is by design aligned with CIRTL’s mission.

Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA)

Uplift logo simpleUPLIFT is the IRACDA Program at UCLA and supports postdoctoral scholars in the biological sciences who have a demonstrated interest in teaching, research, and supporting diversity in the STEM fields. The IRACDA program combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop academic skills, including teaching, through workshops and mentored teaching assignments at a partner institution. The program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia. Other goals are to provide a resource to motivate the next generation of scientists at partner institutions and to promote linkages between RIIs and partner institutions that can lead to further collaborations in research and teaching. IRACDA fellows receive training and gain experience in pedagogy, teaching, and mentoring at Cal State, Los Angeles.  The program is sponsored through the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA), supported by the division of NIGMS at NIH.

Preparing Future Faculty (PFF)


This professional development program is designed to help graduate students and postdocs in STEM fields understand and experience the three key activities—research, teaching, and service—that define an academic career and to guide them in developing an informed position on the responsibilities that faculty members carry in higher education.
The fall quarter addresses advanced topics in teaching science at the college and university level.  Participants begin to formulate a personal teaching philosophy statement, which is often required in application packets.  The winter quarter focuses on the diverse expectations and obligations in schools and provides opportunities to meet veteran and new faculty who discuss their experiences in a variety of types of institutions.  During this quarter participants prepare a CV and have an opportunity to review the CVs of others.  The emphasis of the spring quarter is two-pronged: The seminar addresses the challenges and opportunities in conducting and mentoring research students, both undergraduate and graduate—a critical function of higher education.  Each participant prepares a mentoring plan for a summer research experience for a novice undergraduate.  The second part of the course highlights the rapidly growing area of on-line instruction.  In addition to presentations by faculty experienced in this mode of instruction, participants develop a module for an on-line course, which they will be able to use in a teaching demonstration during a job interview.  A description of the program and its impact on professional development of PFF participants was published in the Journal of Chemical Education (Feb. 2007, Vol. 84, p. 285-291).

Previously funded by HHMI Award No. 52006944
Arlene Russell  (Chem & Biochem)

Entering Mentoring

UCLA mentoring logo web

Effective mentoring is critical to the retention of students in STEM fields and has been linked to greater productivity, research independence, and career satisfaction. In general, mentors do not receive any formalized training in mentoring. More specifically, mentors are unaware of specific issues related to mentoring diverse students.

Entering Mentoring Training is an 8 week curriculum based on the model: “Entering Mentoring: A Seminar to Train a New Generation of Scientists,” by J. Handlesman et al. 2009. The seminar targets graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in the sciences and uses a student-centered, interactive approach.

Teaching Development

Current training efforts for Teaching Assistants (TAs) in Life Sciences tend to focus on providing fundamental information about classroom management, some experiential learning activities, and opportunities to observe other TAs. By and large, there is insufficient emphasis on the importance of incorporating student-centered pedagogy and addressing diversity issues affecting classroom climate, much less training to put this knowledge into practice. The Life Sciences Division is exploring ways in which to improve TA training and integrate these elements into the graduate student curriculum. Aligned with this initiative is interest in engaging with the CIRTL network, which is a NSF-funded online learning community that promotes the professional development of graduate students and post-docs by using graduate education as a lever to develop future faculty committed to implementing effective and inclusive teaching practices.

For more information about the TA training initiative at UCLA, please contact Dr. Erin Sanders (

NSF INCLUDES Pilot Project

Click here to earn about UCLA’s Participation in the NSF funded CIRTL INCLUDES Pilot. This pilot project is laying the groundwork for exploring a regional collective impact model to support future faculty (graduate students) interested in learning about careers as community college faculty, where many students from underrepresented groups have their first undergraduate experiences in STEM.