Dr. Norbert O. Reich

Speaker: Dr. Norbert Reich

Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California Santa Barbara

Principal Investigator, Reich Group

Thursday, February 14th


Location: Biomed 300, UCSC


Thursday February 14th Seminar: 
Highly Effective Active Learning in a One-Year Biochemistry Series with Limited Resources

Description of talk: 

This seminar will focus on an ongoing effort to improve a three-quarter Biochemistry course at UCSB by using various active learning components. One goal was to determine how effective this format is when compared to a parallel conventional course, and to see if the active learning series can be run with limited resources (one instructor, one teaching assistant). The active learning curriculum consists of learning goals for each chapter, online quizzes and short answer questions, in-class questions targeting the problematic areas, small group (3-4 students) discussions during class in which students presented their assumptions and arguments in support of their responses to online and in-class questions, and two-stage exams involving the ability to “re-answer” as a group following a discussion. The in-class questions involved the use of a student response system (i>clicker) (multiple choice) and short answer formats. Students in the active learning course and a control, conventional lecture course, took identical midterms and finals for the first and second quarters. We found that students enrolled in the active learning curriculum had consistently better performance, with statistically significant higher scores on all tests for both quarters. The effect sizes of the improvements are medium to large and are independent of prior GPA and grades in prerequisites.  This model curriculum redesign offers promise for improved student learning with less monetary investment than a flipped course model relying on, for example, an extensive collection of instructor-produced videos. I will touch on the challenges faced by those promoting this type of teaching (based on compelling data showing that it works) in the face of current incentives for research faculty.


About Dr. Reich:

Dr. Reich received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco in 1984. After an NIH post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF, he joined the faculty at UCSB in 1987. His awards include: a Regent's Junior Faculty Fellowship (1987); an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award (1991); the UC President's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research (1994); and elected to the AAAS (2011).