According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one half of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) fields will either change to non-STEM degrees or drop out from college all together. What’s more, under-represented minority students are 50% more likely than other student populations to leave STEM majors.
To promote increased retention of STEM majors in the Life Sciences at UCLA, we developed a course called Communicating Science with funding from the National Science Foundation. Communicating science is an invaluable skill for all scientists and educators in science. In this course, freshmen life science majors work in small groups to interview UCLA research faculty and create short videos for a general audience, including their peers. In the process of creating their videos, students get to speak with faculty, learn about cutting-edge research, and gather stories of the varied paths people take to get into scientific careers. Through this process, students learn skills essential to success in STEM, while creating connections that increase their likelihood of persisting in Life Science majors.
THE COURSE: BUILDING CONNECTIONS AT UCLA
Communicating Science is an unusual undergraduate course where freshman biology majors work collaboratively to create short, science-themed videos for curious minds of all backgrounds. Not only does this course develop deeper connections to “real life” science in action, it helps develop important, person-to-person and digital communication skills, and also fosters the development of valuable connections on campus– connections to help students see different paths forward in science– as well as connections to fellow science students, to UCLA film student tutors (MFA students from Department of Film, Theater, and Television), and to UCLA research faculty who are experts and leaders in their fields.
SPREADING COOL IDEAS OUTSIDE THE LECTURE HALL & LAB
The course provides an opportunity for students to pull back from their typical science courses, learn about scientific research that’s taking place on campus, reflect on what they’ve learned in other science courses, and tap into their creative brain to create engaging videos that can be shared with friends and communities outside the lecture hall.
WATCH THE VIDEOS
Click here to watch some of the videos created by our freshmen.