Apr 23, 2021
Roshini Ramachandran

In her new paper, Dr Roshini Ramachandran discusses the teaching practices and pedagogical strategies that she used in her Fall 2020 CHEM 3: Material World general education course.

In the course Ramachandran utilized high-impact practices to introduce students to the scientific process and impart skills of critical thinking and scientific communication. Course activities and assignments focused on problem-based learning utilizing case studies to make chemistry relevant to current real-world situations. Furthermore, social justice themes (e.g., underrepresentation in science, war on drugs, nuclear proliferation, climate change, etc.) were weaved through several topics. The various course components were assessed using survey instruments and student feedback demonstrated that this multifaceted approach enabled them to engage, evaluate, and communicate science with one another.

This teaching-as-research project was done in collaboration with Ramachandran’s former postdoc advisor Professor Alex Spokoyny (left) and graduate student Nick Bernier (right), her teaching assistant for the class and a member of the Spokoyny group. Spokoyny created the CHEM 3 course in 2018 and teaches it every year as well. Ramachandran says, “In this era of pseudoscientific claims, it is important to align science general education toward advocating for improved scientific literacy, especially as these courses comprise a diverse population of non-STEM students from various backgrounds. CHEM 3 is unique as it provides a perspective that fosters connections between the interplay of science, history, arts, and socioeconomic factors driving technological development. Alex and I will be expanding CHEM 3 further by including a laboratory component to make it a more enjoyable and meaningful learning experience for students.” 
The team’s paper titled “Imparting Scientific Literacy through an Online Materials Chemistry General Education Course” was published in the April 23, 2021 issue of Journal of Chemical Education.
Ramachandran joined the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in 2017 as a Boyer Teacher-Scholar where she taught undergraduate courses and conducted research in the Spokoyny group. In March 2019, she joined the UCLA Center for The Advancement of Teaching (CAT) as Assistant Director of Curricular Initiatives. The CAT fosters and champions effective teaching, grounded in sound pedagogy and enhanced by innovation, to promote successful learning for UCLA’s diverse student population.  In her current position, Ramachandran is involved in the assessment and curricular revision of the GE Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (FSI) courses and also conducts Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education research to enhance teaching and student learning at UCLA.  She continues to teach undergraduate Chemistry & Biochemistry courses for the department.
More articles by Ramachandran:
Penny Jennings, Communications Manager, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.