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Physics Colloquium: Pavan Kadandale (UC Irvine)

September 2, 2016 - 5:30pm

Title:  Enhancing the undergrad experience

At UC Irvine, we are faced with the challenge of adapting to the changing demographics of our student population. We are fast becoming a so-called “minority-majority” institution, over 50% of our students are first-generation students and, we have an increasing number of students from lower socio-economic groups. In my talk I will describe three strategies that we are employing to help us improve student outcomes at UCI. Firstly, we are incorporating authentic research into our undergraduate labs. I will present one example of how we have built a successful collaboration between a research lab, and an undergraduate lab course, resulting in the generation of useful scientific data from our lab course. Second, I will present data to show that in traditional lecture classes, relatively small changes - requiring minimal effort - can result in improved student learning. These small changes have synergistic effects with incorporating active learning exercises in traditional lectures, leading to improved learning, better higher order thinking, and improved long-term learning. Finally, I will present our work in which we have developed a new system to assess the effectiveness of pre-requisite courses, that can foster productive communication between faculty, and improve curriculum development at the program level.



I was a triple major in Microbiology, Zoology and Chemistry at the St. Joseph’s College in India. I then got my Master’s in Biochemistry from the M.S. University in western India, and then moved to Rutger’s University in New Jersey. I worked in the lab of Dr. Andrew Singson, studying the biology of fertilization in C. elegans. While pursuing my PhD at Rutgers, I also had the opportunity to teach my own class under the auspices of the Biomedical Careers Program for minority students at the Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. After getting my PhD from Rutgers, I joined the lab of Dr. Amy Kiger at UCSD, where I studied the role of autophagy in regulating the cytoskeleton of immune cells. During my postdoc, I taught the Advanced Cell Biology course at UCSD, and also helped develop a module for the TA-training program at UCSD. Towards the end of my post-doc, I got really interested in the question of how (and what!) we teach our undergraduates, and how we can inculcate critical thinking skills in undergraduates. This led me to becoming an Asst. Teaching Professor at UCI, where I am pursuing both my interest in teaching, my research into how we can improve learning, and especially how we can improve the learning of skills such as data analysis and higher order thinking.


Every Friday 10:45-11:45 a.m., COB 267 (except as noted). Tea and cookies will be served from 10:30 - 10:45 a.m. Questions regarding the seminar series should be directed to Prof. Bin Liu