Dr. Michael Dennin

Dr. Michael Dennin

STEER STEM Speaker Series
April 5, 2018
Dr. Michael Dennin
Culture in the Science Classroom: The Next Frontier of Student Success

Take Home Lessons

How do we define success in the classroom? Students gaining deeper understanding and confidence? Students pass? These are all about outcomes. Persons promoting EBT think the process is the thing.

The biggest pedagogical shift at UCI is the use of Learning Assistants which requires combination of central organization and local control.  There are several different models. At UCI students are trained in active learning by provost office (Active learning Institute).

Teaching Excellence part of tenure selection - need two pieces of evidence (plus Student evaluations):

  1. Teaching statements (inc. learning outcomes) - Dennin’s office works with departments to develop good effective ones.
  2. Teaching portfolios
  3. Teaching Fellow - Dennin’s office and another dept. certify them. No pay increase but can use as 2nd teaching excellence evidence for tenure.
  4. Teaching awards recipient

Dr. Dennin is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UC-Irving since 1997, and now the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education

ABSTRACT: The last 20 years has seen substantial research in improving pedagogy for student success. At this point, a number of meta-studies have revealed the significant impact that adopting active learning techniques in introductory science classes can have on student success. Often, these techniques have a differential impact, improving outcomes for under-served students more than they do for other students. This has moved us into a new area of implementation and evaluated where and how to maximize the benefits of active learning, as opposed to asking the simpler question of should we use it at all. However, in recent years, a new area of research is emerging – the impact of culture on learning in science courses. Too often, because of the relative neutral nature of science content, it is assumed that issues of race and culture do not impact learning in science courses. In this talk, I will briefly review where we are in pedagogical approaches to student success. Then, I will discuss some of the growing issues and concepts around culture and its impact on student success and what directions we may consider in the future.

BIO: Professor Dennin has been Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCI since 1997, and is now the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education. His research focuses on the dynamics of foams and modeling of ice mélange in fjords. He has won numerous awards for research and teaching, and is passionate about public outreach in the area of science – including co-teaching an open course based on the AMC television program The Walking Dead. He has appeared on numerous television programs – including Science of Superman, Spider-man Tech, Batman Tech, Star Wars Tech, and Ancient Aliens. You can find Prof. Dennin in the YouTube series Fascinating Fights ( debating the outcome of battles between pop icons.

This continuing series of seminars is part of the USF STEM education project, “Systemic Transformation of Education Through Evidence-Based Reforms” (STEER). This project is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (Grant DUE #1525574), the Coalition for Science Literacy, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence (ATLE), and the Office of Student Affairs and Student Success.