2017 Summer Institute for Transforming Undergraduate STEM Education | Group Photo

Summer Institute Logo with Sponsors

What is the Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching?

The Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching is a 5-day professional development opportunity for current STEM faculty and instructors as well as future STEM faculty who are interested in an academic career that involves teaching and mentoring diverse undergraduates. We invite faculty and instructors from all departments and interdisciplinary programs in the Life and Physical Sciences as well as Engineering and Computer Science to apply. DBER postdoctoral fellows, UPLIFT postdoctoral scholars, and Chemistry/Biochemistry teaching scholars are also welcome to apply.

The goal of the Summer Institute (SI) is to help faculty and instructors develop the teaching and assessment skills they need to begin an evidence-based curricular transformation of their undergraduate STEM classrooms. The SI draws on the pedagogical expertise and STEM content knowledge of both facilitators and participants. Current education research on active learning, assessment, and inclusive teaching are woven into the program, creating a forum to share ideas and develop innovative instructional materials to be implemented during the following academic year.

When will it take place?

This year UCLA’s Summer Institute will take place July 24-28, 2017. Note that CEILS will continue to offer this professional development program from year to year, rotating the dates it is offered between summer sessions A and C to help accommodate summer teaching schedules.

Additional Information:


Participants in the Summer Institute (SI) will be inspired and empowered to transform learning and teaching through evidence-based iterative practice. The goal of the SI is to transform undergraduate education at colleges and universities by improving STEM classroom instruction. With the support of experienced facilitators (who are SI alumni themselves), we undertake to train faculty, instructional staff, and future faculty in a scientific approach to teaching that reflects the way we work as researchers. Each cohort is comprised of both new and experienced instructors who typically teach larger-enrollment, introductory or gateway courses. Each SI will generally have approximately 30 individuals in attendance.

The theme for the SI is “scientific teaching.” Participants learn practical strategies for enhancing student learning. The SI models the scientific teaching principles of active learning, assessment, and inclusive teaching, which are integrated into all aspects of the program. Activities include reflective writing, planning, reading, researching, discussing teaching methods and philosophy, interactive presentations, and developing teaching materials. By the end of the SI, participants will have observed, evaluated, and collected a portfolio of innovative teaching approaches and instructional materials that are ready to be adopted and adapted to their own teaching environments.

Background & History of the SI

The Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching emerged from the 2003 National Research Council report, Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. The report concludes that faculty development is a crucial component of improving undergraduate education. It recommends that universities provide faculty with opportunities to refine classroom techniques and better integrate math and science concepts. The Summer Institute (SI) brings STEM faculty and instructional staff together to improve education by integrating current scientific research and pedagogical approaches to create courses that actively engage students in the ways that scientists think. The SI also provides a venue for university faculty and instructional staff to meet for intensive discussions, demonstrations, and working sessions on research-based approaches to undergraduate education. The idea is to create the same atmosphere as a Cold Spring Harbor research course, but instead of a course topic on phage genetics, for example, the focus is on teaching STEM courses.

In its call for new directions and transformation in teaching the biological sciences, the 2011 report produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education, repeatedly cites the Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching and the teaching approach it models models for improving undergraduate STEM education.

What will I learn from attending the CEILS Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching?

The Summer Institute enables participants to answer the following questions:

  • What is scientific teaching? What are some challenges I might need to address in implementing scientific teaching strategies?

  • How can I create and sustain a more inclusive learning environment for my students through scientific teaching?

  • How can scientific evidence inform the teaching practices that I implement?

  • How can I use backward design to align learning objectives, assessments, and active learning strategies?

  • What modes of assessment can I use to promote student learning and inform instruction?

  • How does cognitive science research lay the foundation for the scientific teaching approaches and practices to use in my classroom?

  • How can I implement and disseminate scientific teaching in my community?

What will I do at the Summer Institute? (Sample Schedule)

You can expect to do the following during the Summer Institute:

  • Engage in teaching and learning through sessions that model scientific teaching, use of supporting evidence from the literature, and inclusive teaching
  • Activities may include interactive presentations, mini-seminars, group work, discussions with other participants, and opportunities for reflection

  • Work in small groups with peers at UCLA, along with a trained facilitator, to develop instructional materials

  • Design and adapt instructional materials with clearly defined learning goals that integrate themes of active learning, assessment, and inclusive teaching

  • Present instructional materials to other participants for feedback and review; revise materials for dissemination where appropriate

While the official schedule is not yet finalized, here is a draft that will be very similar:

   Monday (7/24)

   Tuesday (7/25)

   Wednesday (7/26)

   Thursday (7/27)

   Friday (7/28)

Training for local facilitators Workshop: Backwards Design in Action Workshop: Peer Mentoring and Evaluation; Scholarly Teaching Group Presentations Continued Strategic Planning
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Strategic Planning Lunch with College Leadership
Intro & Welcome

Workshop: Inclusivity

Workshop: Scientific Teaching in Action

Work in Groups on Teaching Tidbit Work in Groups on Teaching Tidbits Wrap-Up and Strategic Planning Adjourn

What is required of me as a Summer Institute participant?

As a participant you are required to:
  • Actively engage in all workshops and events for the entire week of the Summer Institute (SI)
  • Incorporate scientific teaching practices into your teaching during the academic year after attending, through use of the instructional materials developed at the SI and/or adapting the principles learned into your own teaching
  • Participate in follow-up evaluation activities (e.g. surveys ) during the academic year after attending
  • Complete one peer observation and be observed by a peer (another SI participant) during the year
  • Attend a one-day follow-up meeting

Additionally, participants are strongly encouraged to:

  • Present your teachable tidbit or experiences from the Summer Institute at a departmental meeting/event or a disciplinary conference
    • Volunteers needed for the annual Faculty Workshop on Best Practices in Teaching (Sept. 20, 2017)
    • May also present at CEILS Education Research Journal Club (meets Fridays 2-3 pm during academic year)
  • Coordinate, or recruit a colleague to coordinate, a scientific teaching workshop for faculty, postdocs, or graduate students during the academic year or following summer after attending the SI
    • Consider engaging as co-facilitator for next year’s Summer Institute
    • Consider running a CEILS Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) workshop
    • Consider co-facilitating a CIRTL@UCLA workshop, course, or learning community meeting

What is provided to me by the Summer Institute program?

  • Experienced facilitators and presenters to provide advice and expertise to help participants develop and hone teaching materials

  • Resources to help you develop and evaluate teaching skills and instructional materials

  • Access to teaching materials developed by previous Summer Institute participants (check out website for national organization)

  • A newsletter and website to connect with the national network of SI alumni

How will I be different after a Summer Institute?

During the Summer Institute you will reflect on and develop skills within the following areas:





Articulate elements of scientific teaching

Improve their ability to use education literature to support teaching practices

Apply evidence-based teaching practices

Address/confront misconceptions about teaching and learning

Be inspired to implement scientific teaching

Appreciate evidence-based practices

Recognize that diversity influences teaching and learning

Commit to incorporating scientific teaching practices

Be empowered to transform their students’ learning

Implement backwards design when developing courses and/or curricula

Employ inclusive teaching strategies that value diversity in the classroom

Use a variety of assessments to measure student learning

Incorporate active learning exercises to engage students

Develop short-term and long-term plans for implementation and dissemination

Become part of a national community of scientific teachers

Advocate for scientific teaching on their home campuses

Consider opportunities to lead scientific teaching initiatives regionally and/or nationally

View a list of UCLA Summer Institute alumni

2016 Summer Institute Scientific Teaching Fellows

Tony Friscia, Integrative Biology and Physiology

Jess Gregg, Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences

Rachel Kennison, Division of Undergraduate Education

Francie Mercer, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

2015 Summer Institute Scientific Teaching Fellows

Ronnie Choe, Integrative Biology and Physiology

Joseph Esdin, Life Sciences Core

Elizabeth Roth-Johnson, DBER Fellow for the Center for Education and Innovations in the Sciences

Zorica Scuric, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology

Nadia Sellami, DBER Fellow for the Center for Education and Innovations in the Sciences

Shanna Shaked, Physics and Astronomy

Sharmila Venugopal, Integrative Biology and Physiology

Xia Yang, Integrative Biology and Physiology

2014 Summer Institute Scientific Teaching Fellows

Rachelle Crosbie-Watson, Integrative Biology and Physiology

Hung Pham, Life Sciences Core

Frank Laski, Life Sciences Core

Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

2006 Summer Institute Scientific Teaching Fellows

Gaston Pfluegl, Life Sciences Core

Erin Sanders, Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences

2005 Summer Institute Scientific Teaching Fellows

Debra Pires, Life Sciences Core

How do I apply?

Thank you for your interest!  Applications are now closed for the 2017 summer cohort.

Applicants have been notified by email of their acceptance status.

We will announce the call for the 2018 summer cohort starting in fall 2017.

Questions? Contact Erin Sanders, CEILS Director, at erins@ceils.ucla.edu.