This is part of the community-driven effort that is part of the Academic Innovation Initiative.
The University of California, Riverside (UCR) is one of the most diverse research universities in the country. More than half of the 5,000 students in our College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) are supported by Pell grants, are members of underrepresented groups, and are first generation college students. To improve student persistence in STEM, CNAS has focused on two experiential interventions for first year students: (1) Learning Communities – designed to engage groups of 24 students with faculty, academic advisors and near-peer mentors, and (2) the Dynamic Genome course – an authentic research experience where UCR research faculty take ownership of a section and bring the excitement of their research labs to the classroom. The Dynamic Genome (DG) course is an alternative to the traditional Intro Bio Lab where learning communities are randomly assigned to one lab experience or the other.
Now in its sixth year at UC Riverside, DG is a hands-on bioinformatics/wet lab course that is taught in the state of the art Neil A Campbell Science Learning Laboratory. First articulated in my HHMI Professor Program in 2006, the DG course was initially proposed as an undergraduate laboratory that replicated my research lab where students learned to navigate cutting-edge methodologies applied to transposable elements in eukaryotic genomes. UC Riverside has proven to be fertile ground for the rapid expansion of the DG course model to a projected 24 sections with a total of 600 first year students by 2018. With the tools and knowledge gained from the Learning Community and Dynamic Genome experiences, an increasing number of students are entering faculty laboratories as first or second year students.
Dr. Sue Wessler – Neil A and Rochelle A Campbell Presidential Chair for Innovations in Science Education and Distinguished Professor of Genetics at the University of California Riverside, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences
The Foundational Course Initiative Seminar Series features high-profile speakers who have extensive experience leading the transformation of foundational courses to incorporate innovative technologies, research-based pedagogies, systematic assessment strategies and novel approaches to supporting the success of diverse students at scale.