Dr. Kimberly Tanner

Speaker: Dr. Kimberly Tanner,

Director of SEPAL, the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory.

Tenured Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University

Thursday, November 8th


Location: Biomed 300, UCSC


Friday November 9th


Location: Biomed 200, UCSC


Thursday Nov 8th Seminar:

Collectively Improving Our Teaching: Department-wide Efforts in Scientific Teaching that Produced Classroom Transformations, Unanticipated Discoveries, and Scholarly Publications

Many efforts to improve science teaching in higher education focus on a few faculty members at an institution at a time, with limited published evidence on attempts to engage faculty across entire departments. We created a long-term, department-wide collaborative professional development program, Biology Faculty Explorations in Scientific Teaching (Biology FEST). Over three years of Biology FEST, 89% of the department’s faculty completed a weeklong Scientific Teaching Institute, and 83% of eligible instructors participated in additional semester-long follow-up programs. A semester after Institute completion, the majority of Biology FEST alumni reported adding active learning to their courses. These instructor self-reports were corroborated by audio analysis of classroom noise and surveys of biology course students on the frequency of active learning techniques used in classes taught by Biology FEST alumni and non-alumni. Three years after Biology FEST launched, faculty participants overwhelmingly reported that their teaching was positively affected. Unexpectedly, most respondents also believed that they had improved relationships with departmental colleagues and felt a greater sense of belonging to the department. Overall, our results indicate that biology department-wide collaborative efforts to develop scientific teaching skills can indeed attract large numbers of faculty, spark widespread change in teaching practices, and improve departmental relations.


Friday Nov 9th Workshop:

Engaging Students and Making Classrooms Inclusive: 21 Strategies to Structure Interactions and Promote Student Success  

Teaching diverse populations of students requires instructors to construct learning environments that are inclusive and equitable. Research in psychology and other disciplines suggests that how students personally experience learning environments strongly influences engagement, motivation, sense of belonging, and, perhaps most importantly, conceptual learning. In this interactive workshop, participants will begin by participating in a simulation of a classroom activity as the basis for discussing how different students may experience the same classroom environment differently from one another. Individual participants will then have the opportunity to self-assess their current awareness and use of 21 common equitable teaching strategies that require minimal skill or preparation to implement. Finally, participants will identify those strategies that could be immediately implemented in their classrooms, laboratories, group meetings, or other professional settings to promote fairness and increase access to learning for all students. 

About Kimberly:

Dr. Kimberly Tanner is a tenured Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Her laboratory – SEPAL: the Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory – investigates what is challenging to learn in biology, how biologists choose to teach, and how to make equity, diversity, and inclusion central in science education efforts. Her research, science education partnership, and faculty professional development efforts at SFSU have been funded by  more than $9 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Trained as a neurobiologist with postdoctoral studies in science education, Dr. Tanner is a proud first-generation college-going student. She earned her BA in Biochemistry from Rice University, her PhD in Neuroscience from UCSF, and completed a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology Education (PFSMETE) jointly between Stanford University and UCSF. Dr. Tanner has been nationally and internationally recognized for both her research and her teaching in biology. She is an Elected Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and has received the 2012 National Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teachers, the 2017 Bruce Alberts Science Education Award from the American Society for Cell Biology, the 2018 SFSU Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2018 UCSF Audacious Alumni Award.