The Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) envisions a UCLA where all students, regardless of their identity and background, thrive in the discipline of their choosing with the support of a highly trained, inclusive, anti-racist instructional community. UCLA faculty and instructors feel valued in their teaching efforts and have easy access to the latest research, skills training, and technology to support their teaching.
The Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) creates a collaborative community of instructors committed to advancing teaching excellence, assessment, diversity, and scholarship, resulting in the enhancement of student learning experiences in the Life and Physical Sciences at UCLA.
CEILS collaborates with regional, statewide, and national organizations to bring the latest knowledge from the field of education research in order to drive change forward and increase equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences here at UCLA. On campus, we engage individuals and departments at every level to build learning communities and create spaces and opportunities for change.
CEILS provides training, learning communities, and resources for teams, departments, divisions, and institutions to tackle systemic bias and racism in higher education . We understand that systemic racism (among other “isms”) is a powerful force and requires us to rethink our policies and practices related to teaching at UCLA.
Our workshops, programs, and resources challenge instructors to embrace evidence-based teaching practices to engage all students and create inclusive classroom climates. We contribute to and engage with the scholarship of teaching and learning.
In partnership with the national Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) we provide training and professional development to current graduate students and postdoctoral scholars through our local CIRTL@UCLA to prepare them to be excellent educators, effective change agents, and the future higher education leaders.
CEILS transforms the culture of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching by pursuing the following five principal goals:
- Lead initiatives that promote current and future faculty teaching development and create inclusive, student-centered classrooms.
- Train instructors in innovative, validated teaching methods, assessment, and course design.
- Create a community of instructors that advances the scholarship of teaching and learning in STEM education.
- Partner with faculty to acquire grant funds to support undergraduate and graduate instructional initiatives in STEM.
- Engage in collaborations and conversations across campus, regional, and national partners to promote multidisciplinary institutional transformation.
In July 2014, the Dean of Life Sciences, Victoria Sork, recognized an immediate and urgent need to eliminate the barriers to equity and inclusion in UCLA classrooms and support the success of all STEM students, particularly those historically marginalized and systemically weeded out of STEM majors (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016; Chen 2013; National Research Council, 2011). Dr. Erin O’Leary became the founding director of CEILS. Between 2014 – 2019 she established and expanded the center through the attainment of several million dollars in extramural grants funds, and developed and launched the hallmark programs for CEILS. Dr. O’Leary left UCLA in 2019 to become the inaugural Executive Director for the Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). CEILS and UCLA are forever grateful to Dr. O’Leary for her service in establishing CEILS as a hub for leading pedagogical change, a home for instructors committed to engage in this work, and a resource benefitting campus goals to close degree attainment gaps and support student success.
CEILS, in collaboration with science faculty and others across the university and nationally, has successfully helped secure over $15M total in grant funding in extramural grant funds. Successful grant applications are critical to CEILS’ ability to facilitate course transformation, teaching development efforts, and cultural change across the institution around teaching. These activities keep CEILS at the cutting edge of education innovation and foster a culture in our Center that is proactive, creative, and entrepreneurial in its goals to meet UCLA’s teaching mission. Successful awards provide leverage for CEILS to expand resources, including staff.
Beyond Grant Funding – Sustained Institutional Funding
While CEILS continues to be awarded extramural funds, following the 5-Year review in 2019 led by Dr. O’Leary, CEILS was able to secure permanent institutional funding and is currently supported by the Deans of both the Life and Physical Sciences.
Educators who engage with CEILS are dedicated to achieving teaching excellence and we are eager to integrate innovative and inclusive pedagogical approaches and reflective teaching practices into their courses. Many such change agents sustain their engagement with CEILS by becoming mentors for the Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching, co-facilitators for workshops offered by CEILS, and instructional consultants who broaden the capacity for CEILS to help STEM faculty implement best teaching and classroom practices. Later participation was expanded to include graduate students and postdocs who express interest in pursuing academic careers through the CIRTL@UCLA teaching development program and professional development for Teaching Assistants.