University of California Davis Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

I Open at the Close*

UC Davis Week of SEISMIC, February 6-8, 2023

And that’s a wrap! 10 Weeks of SEISMIC in the books. Excuse me while I go take a nap…

In all seriousness, the University of California Davis Week of SEISMIC was a lovely way to wrap up this year-long adventure. The weather was beautiful, the talks were highly engaging, SEISMIC Bingo brought out the SEISMIC pride, and the project meetings were quite productive.  

The week began with project meetings for the SEISMIC STEM Equity Learning Communities (SELC) project. More information about this NSF-funded project can be found here. A big task for this team was to sketch out plans for the launch event taking place back in Davis in May. The multitude of white boards and big sticky notepads in the room did not disappoint. The team wrapped up the day with solid plans for the upcoming May Institute. Look for details on this project in an upcoming SEISMIC newsletter.

On Tuesday, Heather Rypkema launched us into a deep dive on “Course Equity Reports: Using Institutional Data to Inform Course Design and Promote Awareness of Outcome Disparities.” Participants learned about the importance for equity reporting, equity measures used in the University of Michigan Course Equity Reports, and other related initiatives. Meaghan Pearson presented next on the Student Perspectives project in the Constructs Working Group. Through this project, researchers interviewed students to understand how they describe inclusive and equitable classrooms. Common themes for inclusive classrooms included, “everyone participates” and “open to other perspectives.” For equitable classrooms, common themes included, “has support structures” and “instruction approachable.” Jonathan Bragg, our new UC Davis SEISMIC PI, took the stage next for an overview of the First-Year Experience Program: BioLaunch at UC Davis. Four undergraduate students – Freddy Camacho Oviedo, Anahí Mora, Gustavo Landeros Mireles, and Julia Estrada – joined us next for a panel on student experiences in STEM. One recommendation that came out of this panel for introductory STEM professors was – “forgiveness through the learning process.” We closed out the day with delicious guacamole and more tasty treats at happy hour, an energizing game of SEISMIC bingo with swag prizes, and dinner at My Burma. What a day!

Wednesday morning started with a presentation from Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza on the importance of equity in the classroom, how we conceptualize it, and current projects in the Constructs Working Group. Joel Ledford and Susan Keen then provided insights into “co-classes” and their utility for students. Our keynote presentation by Renée Link on specifications-based grading carried us through lunch, with great tips on how to really switch up assessment practices, even for huge classes. Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Lina Mendez, and Natalia Caporale presented on a recent project about gathering “student perceptions of spaces on campus” and shared interesting perspectives on safe vs. unsafe spaces. We wrapped up the afternoon and Week with presentations from Korana Burke (flexible grading), Robert Furrow and Cody Pham (creative and non-judgmental figure exploration as a way to reduce student fear of negative evaluation), and Victoria Farrar (perspectives on curving in classes)!

Thank you to everyone who presented, organized, participated, and engaged with our Weeks of SEISMIC! You made these Weeks. Looking forward to seeing you all in June for our SEISMIC Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Registration details are posted on our Summer Meeting page.

*  Harry Potter reference, anyone?



Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.