Cal State LA HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant:

ABSTRACT: The change that forms the framework of this project is one where transformed faculty pedagogy, implemented via faculty training and space to reflect on teaching practices (broadly defined), results in transformed learning for students, thereby achieving inclusive excellence. The slogan “Transformed Learners Transform Learners” captures this vision. We acknowledge that teaching faculty are also learners who need to reflect on their pedagogy and use evidence-based best practices to enable all students to realize their full potential. We envision that in five years we will have a community of transformed faculty and students in the sciences who work collaboratively to achieve academic excellence. Cal State LA is already nationally recognized as the #1 institution for the upward mobility of its students. Yet there remains an achievement gap at many levels of achievement, represented partly in demographics: Latinx and African-American students’ achievement, on average, is significantly lower than that of students of other ethno-cultural identities. Therefore, our overarching goal is to eliminate this achievement gap through transformed pedagogy that reaches all students, particularly Latinx and African American students.

We propose a multi-faceted implementation plan to transform pedagogy in the sciences by:

  1. Instituting an equity-focused professional development program for faculty in collaboration with the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California. The inquiry-based workshops in this program will a) identify educational inequities experienced by historically underrepresented student groups, b) use CUE’s inquiry strategies and tools to examine critically the ways in which faculty mindsets and educational practices contribute to those inequities, and c) transform those mindsets and practices. We anticipate that these and other high impact practices will lower the achievement gap.
  2. Increasing student engagement and fostering the development of students’ college identity by a) building a community of practice and b) promoting and incentivizing science engagement via a program and web portal/App we call “Science Campus Activities for Fostering Engagement” (Sci-CAFÉ).
  3. Ensuring sustainable institutional development by working with the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion to incorporate equity-based programing across all administrative units at Cal State LA.

The strategy includes a “train-the-trainer" model to bring together more than 74 faculty and chairs with the leadership and capacity to change pedagogy, curriculum, and programs, and influence academic policy. This faculty training program in inclusive excellence will be institutionalized by the University’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning. We anticipate that the College and University will sustain the changes by incentivizing all tenure-line and part-time faculty to attend these training programs and inform/transform their pedagogy at the outset. To measure and monitor the changes in Cal State LA’s capacity for inclusive excellence, we plan to use and develop qualitative and quantitative assessment tools to identify what is most effective for our students. We will use institutional research data to monitor our primary target, student achievement gaps; as well as graduation rates, persistence rates, and student engagement.