Participating in the LA program is one of the major experiences which led to my decision to pursue a career in education. Thank you for creating such an awesome program which I will always love being part of.
I have always been a very introverted person and speaking out or being a leader is something I really struggle with. The LA Program caused me to break out of this shell by having an active role in discussions and student learning. Although I was uncomfortable at first, it is always important to push yourself out of your comfort zone which is exactly what this program encouraged me to do.
Before becoming an LA, I was a shy, self-conscious college student who always doubted my abilities and compared myself to just about anybody. The LA program pushed my boundaries as I learned how to be confident about myself and my capacities. I absolutely fell in love with the LA program and its wonderful and inclusive atmosphere. I also convinced myself that speaking to professors is not scary!
The Learning Assistant Program has, without question, been the best experience of my college career. The leadership and communication skills I’ve developed, as well as the camaraderie, has truly made it a worthwhile experience.
The Learning Assistant program was one of the best experiences I had at UCLA, and the evidence-based learning techniques I learned through it are actually helping me a lot in law school as well.
“Joining the program was one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at UCLA. Through my four quarters as an LA, I have found a new passion for teaching that I will carry with me into the real world after I graduate in spring. In June, I will start a teaching credential program and begin my career as a middle school science teacher. My decision was heavily influenced by the great times I’ve had in the LA program.”
The mission of UCLA’s learning assistant program is to EMPOWER STUDENTS through inclusive STEM teaching. By facilitating collaborative and inclusive learning, LAs transform the STEM classroom into one that encourages EVERY student to ask, interact, explain, and deepen their own understanding.
Anonymous LA – “This has been one of the best academic/professional experiences I’ve had at UCLA. As a student I think the LAs were always amazing resources in some of my more difficult classes. I still have LAs in my classes now and going through this program has made me really appreciate all the work they do and how well they grow throughout the program as well. I learned that I love teaching and I’ve gotten amazing feedback from both professors and students…. I really feel that their form of instruction places and emphasis on student learning and growth as opposed to performance. It’s made me want to consider pursing higher degrees so that I can one day design and implement a class of my own.”
Here is an introductory slide show about UCLA’s LA program.
The Learning Assistants (LA) Program in the Sciences at UCLA is an evidence-based, multidisciplinary instructional strategy, in which undergraduate students who have succeeded in a given course receive credit to learn how to help the next group of students succeed in that course. It is specifically geared toward large introductory science, engineering and math courses. LAs thus help facilitate active learning and collaborative instruction in lecture, discussion and/or lab.
The program aims to strengthen a few key aspects of UCLA courses:
- Enhance the ability of faculty to effectively scale active learning, collaborative learning, and other interactive activities to more effectively teach a large and diverse student body.
- Increase the success and skills of the LAs themselves, as they refine content knowledge, while gaining new communication skills and a sense of community.
- Increase the level of student satisfaction and belonging in these courses, and for the LAs themselves.
- Provide feedback to instructors and TAs about ways to improve instruction, since LAs are often more aware of student perspectives and interests than the faculty and TAs teaching the courses.
For a detailed explanation of LA and instructor responsibilities, please refer to the buttons on the top of the page.
News about the LA program
Director of the LA program: Shanna Shaked
Senior Associate Director of CEILS
Lecturer, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Office Location: Young Hall 3077D
Other past and present program coordinators:
Gaston Pfleugl, Life Sciences Core
Heather Tienson-Tseng, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Nadia Sellami, Undergraduate Research Center – Sciences (LA program co-founder)
Josh Samani, Physics & Astronomy
Past PDT members: Elisa Fazzari, Johnny Dang, Kylie Rostad, Dominic Diaz, Irena Roy, Mariam Ghattas, Max Zhu, Timothy Hamilton, Aashi Patel, Byron Corado Perez, Mia Navarro, Joshua Lee, Raphael SJ
Much of this website was developed in collaboration with LAs Ashley Clemens, Stephanie Yang, Nehal Banik, Emily Duong, Johnny Dang, Sara D’souza, and Yiwei Sun.
Dr. Gaston Pfluegl and Dr. Jane Shevtsov created the Undergraduate Assistant program in the Life Sciences, and the LA program was built upon their groundwork in Winter 2016 by Dr. Nadia Sellami (Life Sciences) and Dr. Shanna Shaked (Physical Sciences).