What is a Learning Assistant (LA)?
A Learning Assistant, or LA, is an undergraduate student who, through the guidance of course instructors and a special pedagogy course, facilitates discussions among groups of students in a variety of classroom settings that encourage student engagement and responsibility for learning
The LA attends weekly prep meetings with the course faculty member, attends a pedagogy course to learn strategies for effectively helping other students learn and apply the course content, and participates during class time to help the students in the class with application of material and deep learning of course content.
Why is the LA Model Effective?
The LA Model helps faculty transform their classrooms from passive learning environments (listening, taking notes) into learning spaces characterized by active engagement. Students have opportunities to apply what they are learning in class and work with peers to ensure they understand the content before they even leave the classroom.
How Is the LA Model different from other academic support programs?
Unlike tutoring – where a student comes to a new space (outside of the classroom) with questions or areas of concern and the tutor responds by explaining concepts or helping the student learn material, the LA program is embedded into the course! The learning takes place during class time and everyone in class that day can benefit. It is also driven by the specific content or activity/problems being worked on during that session.
The LA program is similar to Supplemental Instruction (SI) in that students have the opportunity to apply concepts learned in class and the content is structured, however unlike SI which is voluntary and outside of class, every student in the class participates in the LA program as it is embedded in the course during scheduled class time.
NOTE: At FAU, LAs also have “office hours” where students enrolled in that course are able to drop into the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for additional help on concepts outside of the classroom!
What Classes at FAU does the LA Program support?
As of spring 2020, the LA Program is offered in the following courses:
CHM 2046 – General Chemistry II (morning section only)
MAC 2311 – Calculus with Analytic Geometry I
MAC 2312 – Calculus with Analytic Geometry II
MAC 2210 – Intro to Calculus
How Do I Become an LA?
Applications are typically available in late September/early October for spring LA positions and in late February/early March for summer and fall LA positions. Visit the MLC (GS-02 room 211) to inquire about LA positions in math courses or visit CLASS (GS-02 room 223) regarding chemistry LA positions.
As a faculty member, how do I get the LA Program into my course?
If you are as excited as we are about the success of the LA program in enhancing student learning, decreasing DFW rates in courses, and helping make your class one of the highlights of both your day and the students’ days, maybe adding LA to your class is right for you! Talk with your department chair and contact Dr. Jennifer Bebergal (email@example.com) regarding courses outside of mathematics or Dr. Brittanney Adelmann (firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding math courses.
Faculty who have taught courses with the LA program have shared “When I teach a regular 2 hour class I am exhausted. When I teach a 2 hour LA class, I leave invigorated and energized!” – LA Faculty, 2019