Overview and Philosophy of Teaching [back to top]
I am very committed to undergraduate education at UCLA. I view teaching as my primary job within the University, even though I have an active research program that is demanding and requires a lot of time. My thoughts on this matter are reflected in the accompanying Editorial, "To Teach or Not," that I wrote for The Plant Cell while I was Editor-In-Chief. My philosophy of education and what I try to achieve in the classroom is best described in the UCLA Alumni Magazine article, entitled "Goldberg Variations" by Dan Gordon, which is the best description yet of what I do in the classroom. Finally, I described my teaching philosophy in an interview that was highlighted in the UCLA 2001-2003 General Catalog which also accompanies this Statement.
What I Enjoy Teaching [back to top]
I enjoy teaching introductory courses to both non-majors and majors. Since arriving at UCLA in 1976, I have concentrated on Lower Division courses because I like to teach students that are at the beginning of their college experience. I have, however, taught Upper Division and Graduate courses as well, most recently teaching MCDB 144 -- Molecular Biology. Many of my courses are taken for General Education credit by undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds and interests. I love teaching science to non-majors and discussing the impact that science, particularly recent developments in genetics, genomics, and biotechnology, has on their lives. In all of my courses I intermingle discussions about scientific principles with those on the history and impact that science has on society. I enjoy engaging students and providing a learning environment that allows students to interact intellectually and reach for "the sky." Simply put -- I try to make science "come alive" with the people, events, ideas, and experiments that "made it all happen."
Courses Recently Taught [back to top]
I particularly like creating new courses because they allow me to explore new avenues of thought, expand my intellectual horizons, and interact with different types of students. I have initiated and taught several new courses as part of the Freshman Seminar Series (Biology 88C), the Honors Collegium Curriculum (HC 25,HC70, HC70A), the Life Sciences Core Curriculum LS3H), and the General Education and Core Curricula (Biology/MCDB 70). And I enjoy teaching classes at all levels -- from freshman seminars to lower division core courses to upper division requirements for the major. In fact, during one Academic Year (1992-93) I taught courses in all of these Curricula: Freshman Seminar Series (Fall), Biology Upper Division Core (Winter), Biology Upper Division Core Honors (Winter), and the Honors Collegium (Spring).
I am particularly proud of my contributions to undergraduate education at UCLA -- particularly my contributions to many different types of courses to science and non-science students as well as in the upper and lower divisions. I enjoy exploring and experimenting with new teaching approaches and new research and thinking processes in the classroom.
Courses that I have taught include:
· Biology 88C, Frontiers of Molecular Biology (Freshman Seminar Series)
· Honors Collegium 25, The Human Genome -- Prospects for the Super Race (Honors Collegium Curriculum/General Education Curriculum)
· Biology 70 -- Genetic Engineering and Society (General Education Curriculum)
· HC 70A -- Genetic Engineering in Medicine, Agriculture, and Law (General Education Curriculum and Special Gold Shield Award Course)
· Biology 7 (equivalent to Life Sciences 3) -- Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology (Life Sciences Lower Division Core Curriculum/General Education Curriculum)
· Life Sciences 3 Honors -- Introduction to Molecular Biology/Honors (Life Sciences Lower Division Core Curriculum/General Education Curriculum)
· Biology 100A, Principles of Molecular Biology (Biology Upper Division Core Curriculum)
· Biology 100A Honors Discussion
· MCDB 144, Molecular Biology (MCDB Upper Division Core Curriculum)
Teaching Undergraduates in the Laboratory [back to top]
I have also had a number of undergraduate Honors Research students in my laboratory -- teaching undergraduates science hands-on in the laboratory. And I initiated a unique program to utilize senior undergraduate Teaching Assistants in my lower division classes. In fact, I was the first to utilize undergraduates as Teaching Assistants at UCLA to teach them "how to teach" and to show them how much fun it is to be involved with undergraduate teaching. Many of my undergraduates have been honored at MCDB graduation with senior research awards and/or outstanding student awards [James Boone (1997), Pei Yun Lee (1998), Philip Choi (2001)}. In addition, several have had their names on papers published from my laboratory (Katherine McIntire, James Boone, Mai Thy Truong, Pei Yun Lee).
Thus, I have been involved at every level of undergraduate teaching at UCLA in my Department and the College -- a Freshman Seminar, General Education Courses for Non-Science Majors, Lower Division Life Sciences Core Courses, an Upper Division Life Sciences Core Course, an Upper Division Honors Discussion, and 190/199/SRP Honors Research.
Teaching Style and Unique Methods and Approaches [back to top]
My classes are rigorous and highly unorthodox. I believe that students can be challenged to reach their maximum academic potentials by being demanding, by maximizing student/student and student/professor interactions, and by using creative and dynamic teaching approaches to stimulate student interest. My classes are organized around a 2.5 hour lecture which I teach, a 2.5 hour movie discussion on the relevance of science to society which I also teach, and a 2 hour discussion section which is an undergraduate seminar on current topics in molecular biology which the TAs teach. In each of my courses I :
· Utilize Undergraduate Teaching Assistants and/or recent graduates who have had my class previously and who have shown unusual promise as teachers. I work with my TAs very closely using video and discussions to "teach them how to teach." And they learn to teach in the "Socratic style" which stimulates interactions in the classroom.
· Utilize color photos of each student to learn their names and create a more personal learning environment.
· Call on students at the beginning of each class to summarize the previous lecture in order to encourage class participation and oral presentations.
· Make extensive use of the "Socratic" method in Lecture and Discussion Sections that emphasize student-student and student-professor/teaching assistant exchanges.
· Require each class to write, produce, perform, and video-tape a movie that they turn in as a class project. This is a "fun" experience and enables students to meet and interact with each other.
· Written "docudrama" plays that put students in "real life" situations that deal with science, ethics, and society. These plays are acted out by the students in their Discussion Sections.
· Require students to read at least one popular non-fiction book, such as The Double Helix, Invisible Frontiers, or Natural Obsessions, and write at least one paper per class. These papers are graded for style and grammar by the English Department's writing program, and for content by the teaching assistants and myself. The reading/writing assignment enables students to get a writing experience in a science class, obtain different points of view, read about the personal side of how science is done, and learn that scientists are "human."
· Make extensive use of hand-outs and audio-visual equipment so that students can listen in class rather than scribble notes, video-tape each lecture so that students can review lectures to pick up points they might have missed in class, and use computer hook-ups to demonstrate DNA sequencing analysis and 3-D structures of macromolecules.
· Foster a non-competitive, "team" approach to learning the classroom
· Give take-home exams that encourage students to work together in groups and interact with each other intellectually. That is, become their own teachers.
· Utilize a "fail-safe" system on take-home exams that "loans" points earned to student. This system involves penalties for missing a take-home question and/or concept on an in-class written exam, requires students to learn the concepts being stressed on the take-home exam, and allows students to work together in groups.
· Give each class a "whole-class" oral exam in order to teach students how to speak in public and think on their feet.
· Use an integrative approach that emphasizes experiments, problem-solving, and connections between different subjects.
· Discuss the historical relevance, social importance, and ethical implications of the subject matter. For example, in my MCDB 144 Discussion Section the students read every classical paper in molecular biology which was interfaced with current papers in the same area (e.g., Avery et al., 1944 vs. cloning and sequencing genes encoding the "diploccocus sugar-coated capsule.")
· Teach a whole-class movie discussion section that deals with the relationship between science and society. This section utilizes popular movies to raise issues that cannot be adequately covered in class. Movies include: Judgment Nuremberg, Race for The Double Helix, Lorenzo's Oil, and Inherit the Wind.
· Use only problem-oriented and essay question exams.
· Utilize in-class demonstrations such as DNA extractions and bacterial growth studies to give a "hands-on" feel to lecture classes.
Evaluations [back to top]
My teaching evaluations indicate that my classes are more difficult than others that the students have taken. However, my classes are very well-received by my students, even though they are tough.
My instructor evaluations averaged 8.67 over the past five years (on a 9.0 scale). These included ratings of 8.64 for LS 3H (W97), 8.74 for LS 3H (W98), 8.52 for HC25 (W99), 8.82 for HC 70A (W00), and 8.63 for MCDB 144 (W01). Thus, I have been able to exceed an 8.5 instructor evaluation rating at every level of science teaching at UCLA: Lower Division GE Courses, Lower Division Life Sciences Core Course, and Upper Division Departmental Major Requirement. Over the past 18 years my teaching evaluations averaged 8.40.
My teaching evaluations document that my classes are successful at (1) stimulating learning efforts, (2) teaching students important conceptual information, (3) showing students how to think critically and challenge statements in class, (4) demonstrating that there is a "different" way to teaching at the University, and (5) giving them a real learning "experience" that they will remember.
Teaching Honors [back to top]
I am very proud of my accomplishments in the classroom and I have been honored to have received many teaching awards, including being listed as one of the "Top Twenty Professors" in UCLA History. Other Honors include:
· Gold Shield Award For Excellence in Research and Undergraduate Education (1998)
· Luckmann Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCLA Academic Senate (1992)
· Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award from the UCLA Department of Biology, Division of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (1989)
· Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award From the Biology Department (1980)
GRADUATE TEACHING [back to top]
I am also very committed to graduate and postgraduate education at UCLA. I have participated in many Graduate Seminars since my arrival at UCLA. Over the past 20 years or so I have trained over 35 Ph.D. students (9), M.S. Thesis students (2), Postdoctoral Fellows (19), and Visiting Scholars/Scientists (6). Many of my Ph.D. students received Outstanding Graduate Student Research Awards when they graduated [Joe Kamalay (1980), Jack Okamuro (1987), Diane Jofuku (1987), Susan Barker (1990), Gary Drews (1989), Ramin Yadegari (1996)].
Most of my former Thesis students and Fellows are now working their way up the academic ladder at major universities, and some have even reached Full Professor status. My graduate and postgraduate teaching has been very rigorous and intellectually demanding --- I expect a lot from my Thesis Students and fellows. However, I give back 150% in return. I am proud of the people who have trained in my laboratory, and they have evolved into independent teachers and scholars who continue reaching for the "excellence" that I drilled into them when they were in my lab. My students have now become their Professor's "Professor."