Winter 2018 Instructional Division Seminar

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Pratibha Varma-Nelson, Founding Executive Director of the STEM Education, Innovation and Research Institute at IUPUI, gave the February 27th seminar.

Varma-Nelson, a professor of chemistry at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), was instrumental in the development of the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) program, which is a method and practice of teaching that encourages students taking science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes to be more active in their own learning, thus improving their problem-solving skills, ability to work in teams, and the success in introductory science courses.

In her seminar titled “Replicating Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) in Cyberspace: Research, Opportunities, and Challenges”, Varma-Nelson presented a brief overview of the PLTL research and then described the development and evaluation of cPLTL, the online adaption of PLTL. Varma-Nelson concluded with the description of a mixed methods study that evaluated the transfer of a PLTL to an online workshop environment in a general chemistry course.  More information about PLTL and cPLTL can be found on the program’s website.  

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Prof. Pratibha Varma-Nelson during her lecture.

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Members of the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Instructional Division at the seminar with Varma-Nelson – Front row: Drs. Maher Henary, Arlene Russell, Prof. Pratibha Varma-Nelson (IUPUI), Roshini Ramachandran, and Steven Hardinger. Back row: Drs. Laurence Lavelle, Johnny Pang, Heather Tienson, Jennifer Casey, and Anne Hong-Hermesdorf.

About Professor Pratibha Varma-Nelson

Pratibha Varma-Nelson is Professor of Chemistry and the founding executive director of the (STEM) Education Innovation and Research Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Before she joined SEIRI she was the executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. She is well known in the STEM community for her pioneering work in the development, implementation and dissemination of the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) model of teaching. She has been a Co-PI of three NSF funded National Dissemination Grants. In addition she was a founding Co-PI of the first NSF funded Undergraduate Research Center “Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education, (CASPiE)”. Her research group is currently working on the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of cyber-PLTL (cPLTL). For the cPLTL project, she has received funding from IUPUI, NSF, and EDUCAUSE, Next Generation Learning Challenges. This work broadly informs the understanding of how students learn chemistry (general and organic) in online environments as well as in face-to-face environments.  Varma-Nelson is co-author of several publications about PLTL, cPLTL, and CASPiE and has made numerous presentations in local, national, and international venues. She co-authored the 2011 AAAS report, “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” as well as several other national reports. 

To learn more about Varma-Nelson, visit her website.  

About the Instructional Division Seminars

As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain world-class excellence in chemical education, the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry launched the Instructional Division Seminar Series in 2014 in order to bring to UCLA the leading experts in the art and science of the teaching of chemistry. Senior Lecturer Dr. Steve Hardinger organizes the series.  

Mark your calendars for the following upcoming seminar:

Spring 2018 

Professor Jennifer Lewis

Graduate Program Director

Department of Chemistry 

University of Southern Florida 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

4:00 p.m.

Young Hall 2033

Photos by Penny Jennings/ UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.