Education Research

Dr. Crosbie has developed Muscle UP, a comprehensive education and training program in muscle cell biology focused on development of trainees throughout their career from undergraduates to postdoctoral fellows. At UCLA, there is community support, institutional investment, infrastructure, and a critical mass of researchers with extensive experience in muscle biology and muscular dystrophy, to provide a rich training environment to reach undergraduates at critical stages of their careers and to train the next generation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with evidenced-based teaching skills. The hub and entry point of the Muscle UP training program within the UC system is an upper division elective course, PS121 “Disease Mechanisms and Therapies”, that is focused on creating meaningful learning experiences for undergraduate STEM majors using L. Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning. PS121 is a fully online course with synchronous and asynchronous activities that brings together biological science undergraduates from across each of the nine University of California campuses. Online learning communities are formed through small discussion sections that promote team-based work. Our preliminary data support that PS121 is a meaningful, transformative experience for students in which they are driven to learn deeply by focusing on a single complex problem to develop critical thinking skills, while being stimulated to think beyond themselves. In PS121, undergraduates learn to integrate concepts from many disciplines to address real world challenges and to engage with the community. PS121 is a highly structured course that employs scientific teaching practices to benefit all students. PS121 fulfills the Diversity Requirement at UCLA for its consideration of disability and socioeconomic factors that can affect access to healthcare. We are currently investigating assessments of PS121 with a particular focus on evaluating online learning communities and their effectiveness in creating an inclusive environment for the success of all students.