Benefits of the LA Program

How do LAs benefit?

LAs learn evidence-based teaching techniques in a weekly pedagogy seminar to help other students learn more effectively. LAs increase their course content knowledge along with their communication and teaching abilities. This program is based on the nationally successful and evidence-based Learning Assistant program from CU-Boulder. Here is a recent NPR story on the CU-Boulder LA program.

 Their participation also improves their (self-reported) ability to facilitate inclusive learning in diverse classrooms (Table 2, LA program summary report).

How do students benefit?

Students get extra help in lecture and discussion, extremely fast responses to questions posted on the discussion forum, and additional office hours each week. LAs also help students engage in discussion to increase student critical reasoning and facilitate student group collaboration. Moreover, the LAs are often seen as more accessible and approachable.

A recent PLOS article found that peer-led team learning (i.e. having peers facilitate group problem-solving in a manner similar to that of LAs) helps under-represented minority students succeed in STEM classes.

 In a chapter on retaining under-represented minorities in STEM, the National Academies Press highlighted five successful programs in the U.S., two of which involve Learning Assistants and all of which involve some form of peer interaction.

To learn more about how the LA program has been benefiting the LAs and students on the UCLA campus, refer to this summary of the LA program’s progress.

LA Testimonials

“Being an LA is such a gratifying and eye-opening experience. In addition to all the techniques and tools you will learn in the pedagogy seminar, there are a lot of things you learn “on the job” from interacting with students. For me, these students have taught me just as much as I have taught them. “ -Jennifer, Learning Assistant

“All in all I will say that you are in for a truly rewarding experience. This program will teach you the fundamentals of learning, how we actually engrave things in our memory, and why a positive and energetic environment in which students actively participate is key to a successful education.” -Christian, Biochem 153A Learning Assistant

“I have learned so much that has helped me not only improve my teaching skills, but also improve pertinent life skills such as public speaking and critical thinking…This program has also deeply strengthened my interests in a teaching career in the future.” –Ronnel, LS3 Learning Assistant

“When you help a students reach an answer on their own, it is incredibly rewarding. I was helping a group of students with a problem, and when they figured out the answer they all screamed “OH MY GOSH THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!” It was amazing to know that I helped them learn a new idea and they understood exactly what I was trying to teach them.” –Emma, Biochem 153A Learning Assistant

What Do We Ask from LAs?

The program consists of the following weekly commitments:

  • 1 credit pedagogy seminar co-taught by Dr. Tienson and Dr. Shaked (1 hour seminar + 2 hours reading and prep time where you will write a short teaching reflection every week and conduct and respond to student evaluations)
  • 1 hour weekly meeting with instructor(s) and TAs to go over content for following week
  •  2-4 hours of the following: attend lecture and/or discussion sections to foster collaborative learning
  •  1-3 office hours
  •  1-2 hours of other tasks (e.g. looking ahead at lectures or homework; responding to questions on discussion board)
    The default is that you should commit a total of about 12 hours per week for 4 credits and a letter grade (Physics LAs may have some flexibility in weekly hours)

In the pedagogy seminar, we will go over the theory of learning and strategies that will help increase student learning. You will be asked to write a short teaching reflection every week to think about your progress. The seminar will be shared with Physics, Life Science, Chemistry and Math LAs.

For more information, check out the Pedagogy Seminar Syllabus.

How to Apply

Interested in being an LA?

New LA Application

Returning LA Application

Fall 2017 application deadlines is July 31 at 11:59pm.

Please note that all new LAs must be able to attend the Pedagogy Seminar Fall Quarter on Tuesdays from 4-5pm.

If you want to LA for the course you are in right now, please wait until final grades are released to apply.

As a campus with a continually growing diverse student body, we encourage applications from women, minorities, and individuals with a commitment to mentoring under-represented demographics in the sciences.

FAQ

What classes can I be an LA for?

The courses participating in the LA program varies each quarter, but so far we have had LAs helping in Physics 6A/B/C/AL, Physics 1A, Math 31A/B, CS30, Life Sciences 2/3/4/23L, Life Sciences 7A, Life Sciences 30A/B, Biochemistry 153A/B, and Chemistry 14C/D. The program is expanding and more courses may be added, so keep checking back.

Is the LA program only for STEM classes?

The LA program focuses on benefiting science majors and faculty teaching large introductory science and math courses in particular. 

Can I be an LA for more than one class?

Yes! You can LA for more than one class in a quarter if you choose.

Can I be an LA for more than one quarter?

Absolutely! There are many returning LAs who choose to LA for the same course more than once or for different courses. We also have experienced LAs who become Super LAs, Super Duper LAs, and Research LAs. This can involve a variety of duties, including observing and working with LAs, helping to run the weekly content meeting with LAs, organizing the LAs to be most effective, helping to assess the effectiveness of the LA program, etc.

Am I allowed to be an LA if I cannot make it to the pedagogy seminar?

Unfortunately, no. The pedagogy seminar teaches LAs evidence-based teaching practices that are essential to facilitating active learning in the classroom. The LA program and pedagogy seminar are ongoing, so you can always apply to be an LA another quarter.

I want to LA for a specific class, but the instructor currently is not a part of the LA program. Is there anything I can do?

Yes, the Instructors page includes information about the LA program that you can share with them.

Learning Assistant Information