AULAP Information for Faculty

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LA Faculty Expectations

Faculty who interested in using LAs need to teach a course with regular opportunities for small-group work in class and/or in discussion. Based on the LA model, LA faculty are expected to:

  • Structure your course to promote the regular interaction between LAs and students.

    • Design or re-design your course with small group work

    • Integrate active learning components to your classroom

    • Introduce LA(s) and their role to students in the first day of class.

    View more details in course transformation about how to design or re-design a course with small group work and active learning components towards learning goals.

  • Support LA development

    • Clarify your expectations to your LAs in the first meeting.

    • Meet at least weekly with your LAs for reflection and preparation. Check more on the weekly meeting with LAs

  • Engage with the LA program community

    • Evaluate the effectiveness of the LAs in the courses through AULAP.

    • Participate in AULAP Faculty community events

    • Participate in end-of-semester LA poster session (LA pedagogy course)

    • Promote a departmental culture that values teaching.

Learning Assistants have been well documented to be more effective than other undergraduate in-class support (e.g. Peer Tutors or Lab Assistants), due to their quality pedagogical training and good preparation. AULAP is a faculty collaborative program, if you are interested in improving class teaching and learning, LAs and the AULAP are here to help you achieve your active learning goals in a variety of classroom settings (lectures, discussions, and labs).

Course Transformation

What are transformed courses?

A transformed course supported by LAs involves active learning and opportunities for groups of students to work toward a learning goal and for instructors to make instructional decisions based on student ideas. LAs are most effective in classes that include active engagement using curriculum that is based on the results of education research.

  • Use LAs to promote interaction and collaboration among students
    It is the job of every LA to facilitate group discussions by promoting supportive spaces that encourage interaction and collaboration among students. By including LAs who are trained with applying various pedagogical topics in the math or science classroom, more students can have their thinking challenged in order to develop a deeper understanding of the content.

  • Communicate and collaborate with other faculty
    Using LAs in the classroom generally helps generate discussion among faculty. Whether the goal is to attract faculty to using LAs in their class or to share ideas and strategies of using LAs effectively, communication is important for every LA program.

  • Evaluate learning outcomes
    All faculty using LAs are encouraged to evaluate their students’ learning outcomes, whether they are in-class assessments or standardized concept inventories or attitudinal surveys through the LASSO system. AULAP will facilitate the assessment for your class.

  • Adapt, adopt, and design active learning materials that support course transformation
    There are many examples from the different STEM disciplines of innovative instructional materials. For example, many physics departments have adopted the University of Washington’s Tutorials in Introductory Physics, which has transformed their courses. The Tutorials involve conceptually-based group problem-solving activities, which are physics education research-based and research validated. LAs who work in Tutorial sessions formatively assess student understanding, ask guiding questions, and facilitate collaboration within groups. These tutorial sessions can be supplemented by weekly lectures, made interactive through clickers and collaborative peer instruction. Another example of course transformation is used in the Applied Mathematics department at George Mason University. In weekly LA-led problem-solving sessions, small groups of students use a dry-erase board to collaboratively construct problem solutions. In the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department at CU-Boulder, one lecture per week is replaced by Learning Team sessions headed by LAs who facilitate collaborative problem solving as students analyze real astronomical data and generate and compare models to fit these data.

There are many ways to leverage the skills and expertise of LAs in a variety of setting including:

  • Large Classroom Settings

  • Small Classroom Settings

  • Flipped Classrooms

  • Recitation Style Sessions

  • Oral Assessments

  • Online Courses

There are also programmatic roles for Experienced LAs such as being an LA Mentor or engaging in education research.

Campus-wide Support for Course Transformation

If you are interested in the course transformation, check the following resources provided on campus:

Weekly Content Preparation Meetings

Based on the LA model, One of the three main activities that LAs engage in is the weekly preparation meeting. During these sessions, LAs meet with coordinators and/or faculty, as a team, to discuss the specific LA assignment and the particular course the LAs are supporting. During these sessions LAs might review their content understanding, prepare questions or activities for the class, and reflect on how students are understanding course content and progressing in the course. While there is often overlap between topics that might be discussed in the weekly preparation session and the pedagogy course, the weekly preparation session is typically more focused on the specific LA assignment and is often more context specific.

At most institutions the pedagogy course focuses more on the general principles of learning and instructional practices to support learners. Ideally, the weekly preparation sessions and the pedagogy course complement each other and LAs are able to see the connection between these two aspects of their preparation. LAs possess a variety of expertise that compliments the faculty/coordinator expertise and the weekly preparation session is one place where this expertise can be leveraged and used to assist students in LA supported classes.

While the weekly preparation sessions are one of the three main activities in the LA Model, it is often the activity in the model with the least amount of formalized structure and its implementation can vary greatly between different institutions, and even among different faculty or departments within a single institution. Despite this variation, it is an essential piece of the LA Model as it is often the place where (1) LAs can talk about very specific tools to support the students in the classes they work in, (2) develop important content specific teaching tools and skills and (3) develop rich relationships and partnerships with faculty and coordinators. As instructors and coordinators meet with LAs they share useful, complementary information. Many of the benefits of this interaction are similar to the benefits of the close working relationship between mentor and student in undergraduate research experiences.

The amount of time for these meetings can vary quite a bit depending on a number of factors but they are typically between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours. Many faculty and LAs have indicated in interviews that meeting regularly benefits the class, the LAs, and the faculty/coordinators.

During the weekly preparation sessions LAs participate in the following activities:

  • Review content knowledge

  • Role play through inquiry-based instruction and modeling of inquiry-based instruction

  • Reflect and discuss student learning and student understanding

  • Co-think through in-course modifications and curriculum development

  • Discuss pedagogical content knowledge

  • Discuss effective interpersonal interactions

The specific focus of each week’s meeting might vary based on a number of factors such as:

  1. What is happening in the course in that particular week?

  2. How comfortable is the LA with the content for the course?

  3. How well developed are the course materials and the course structure?

LA Responsibilities

Primary goals for using LAs in the classroom include:

  • Increasing student learning

  • Increasing student engagement

  • Emphasizing sense making and reasoning

  • Learning more about student thinking

In pursuit of these goals, LAs typically work within classrooms by facilitating small group discussion around challenging questions. Whether in a large lecture hall, a small recitation, or an online forum, LAs encourage students to share their ideas and reasoning and guide them toward thinking more deeply. In the course of their interactions with students, LAs also learn about student successes and challenges and provide critical feedback to the instructor regarding student learning in the course.

What LAs can do in face-to-face classrooms:

  • facilitate small group work

  • guides discussion during problem solving

  • assist with the field trip

  • make short review videos

  • help instructor create worksheets and problem ideas

  • feedback and interpret the tutorial homework to students

  • assist students in class project.

  • provide valuable feedback to instructors

  • host office hours

  • host recitation

What LAs can support in online courses:

  • moderate small groups who choose to meet synchronously online to delve deeper into discussion.

  • monitor the chat window during the synchronous class.

  • promote asynchronous discussions through class discussions.

  • assist students in class project.

  • help students check their homework draft before the final submission.

  • host virtual office hours.

  • provide valuable feedback to instructors.

  • preview a new module for faculty to ensure that the links and directions are easy to follow for a non-expert student.

  • make weekly study guides/videos for students

LAs do not:

  • proctor or grade exams and tests

  • prepare for labs with teaching assistants

  • work as teaching assistants

  • help faculty instructor in teaching a class

Applying for LA support

Interested in Using LAs?

Get in touch with your department coordinator to learn about the application process and discuss your ideas.


Faculty that apply to use LAs agree to:

  • use LAs to promote interaction and collaboration among students enrolled in the course

  • meet in weekly planning sessions with the LAs who support their courses

  • participate in ongoing community events

  • evaluate transformations and assess learning in their own courses