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 communicate with others, collaborate, think outside the box, and be confident about myself and my capacities. I found my closest group of friends at UCLA through this program, and every LA event/activity eventually became the best part of my days on campus. 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 program offers so much to everyone at UCLA, from freshman to upperclassmen to professors, and everyone has so much to gain from it. The leadership and communication skills I’ve developed, as well as the camaraderie, has truly made it a worthwhile experience. I wish I could stay on until I graduate, but I also know that my leave will allow other students to come into the program, and hopefully come appreciate it as much as I do.

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.

About 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.

Below is an April 2018 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Increase the success and skills of the LAs themselves, as they refine content knowledge, while gaining new communication skills and a sense of community.
  3. Increase the level of student satisfaction and belonging in these courses, and for the LAs themselves.
  4. 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.


LA program development team (undergraduates): Sarah Castillo, Aly Ung, Arliette Ariel Sulikhanyan, Christine Tseng, Esin Gumustekin, Mia Navarro, Olivia Lopez


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, Joshua Lee, Raphael SJ


The LA program is supported by…

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).