Learning Assistant Program: October Newsletter

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AULAP Student Application Now Open!

The applications for students wishing to work as an LA for this upcoming Spring 2024 semester is now open! The applications opened up on October 29th and will close on Novemeber 13th. Click the link here to apply to be an LA! Students who are interested in being a Physics and Math/Statistics LA are highly encouraged to apply! Final decision letters for prospective LAs will be informed by December 1st.


Additionally, there will be an LA information session for students wishing to learn more about being an LA on Thursday, November 2nd from 3-5 pm in ACLC 170B. There will be free pizza offered! The list of classes and professors that are offered for LAs this Spring are below and on the application link:


PHYS 1500, MWF 9-9:50am, Dr. Bernardi
PHYS 1510, MWF  9-9:50am, Dr. Halford

PHYS 1510, MWF  10-10:50am, Dr. Halford
PHYS 1510, TR 9:30 - 10:45am, Dr. Park
PHYS 1600, TR 8 - 9:15am, Dr. Merrill
PHYS 1610, TR 9:30 - 10:45am, Dr. Merrill

Math and Statistics: 
MATH1680-140, MTWR 2-2:50pm, Dr. Chang
MATH1680-150, MTWF 3-3:50pm, Dr. Chang
STAT2510,  TR 2 - 3:15 pm, Mrs. Haskell
STAT2510, TR 3:30 - 4:45 pm, Mrs. Haskell
MATH 2850, MWF 11-11:50am, Dr. Morris


GEOL 1110, MWF 10-10:50am, Dr. Fronimos
GEOL 1110, MWF 12-12:50pm, Dr. Fronimos

Chemistry and Biochemistry:
CHEM 1020, TR 9:30-10:45am, Dr. Crisostomo
CHEM 1040 - 001, TR 12:30PM, Dr. Crisostomo

CHEM 2080 - EA1, TR 9:30 - 10:45am, Dr. Prado
CHEM 2030 , MWF 12 - 12:50 pm, Dr. Curtiss
CHEM 2070,  MWF 11–11:50 am, Dr. Curtiss
CHEM 2080, MWF 10-10:50am, Dr. Schneller 

CHEM 1030 - 001, TR 12:30 - 1:15pm, Dr. Barton

CHEM 1030 - EA2, TR 11 - 12:15pm, Dr. Barton

CHEM 1040 - 002, TR 8 - 9 :15am, Dr. Barton

Biological Sciences:
BIOL 1020 – 001, MWF 12-12:50 pm, Dr. Riggs
BIOL 1020 – EA2, MWF 1 - 1:50pm, Dr. Zhong
BIOL 1020 – EA3, TR 2-3:15pm, Dr. Bowling
BIOL 1030 – 001, MWF 11 - 11:50am, Dr. Zanzot
BIOL 1030 - 003,  TR 8 - 9:15am, Dr. Zhong
BIOL 2500, MWF 11 - 11:50 am, Dr. Ferdous
BIOL 3200, MWF 8 - 8:50am, Dr. Riggs

BIOL3200-002, MWF 12 - 12:50pm, Dr. Mehari 

LA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Scott Bowlingbowling.jpg


The AULAP is honored and delighted to announce and feature our October Faculty of the Month Spotlight - Dr. Scott Bowling! Someone who has been a part of the LA program since it was established in 2015, Dr. Bowling is passionate about active learning, the many benefits that it offers students and the positive impact it has on their education. Dr. Bowling began teaching as a graduate student at Duke in 1994 and obtained his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology and Botony where he worked on mapping plant immune response genes. He then taught at Opelika High School beginning in the fall of 2000 and started teaching at Auburn University in spring 2001.

Dr. Bowling began his current position here at Auburn in 2003 as a coordinator for the biology labs for the major’s courses (BIOL 1020 and 1030 and accompanying labs, 1021 and 1031). Hiring somewhere between 50-70 LAs in his time, Dr. Bowling started doing active learning early in 2005, and learned from some other schools a few years after what we could call learning assistants and was intrigued by the idea but couldn’t get the financial support for it. Once the program was established in 2014-2015, he was one of the first faculty members to be a part of this new program.

He defines the classroom environment as active learning, “to retain and use information and have the information long term.” When he does lecture, he tries to tailor to what the students are struggling with, and he gets this information from the LAs, quizzes, etc. The learning platform called Learning Catalytics that Dr. Bowling utilizes in his classroom can show what the students are struggling with and allows higher order thinking questions such as picking all that apply. He says that the common misconception is that for a “flipped classroom” or active learning, it has to be video lectures to watch before class, which is not true. It is utilizing a combination of pre, during, and post-classroom activities, and the LAs are essential to making this work with active learning. He utilizes his LA’s by having them to facilitate student group discussion and activities. As students are doing activities in class, they often have questions or need some check of what they’re done and encourage them to keep working. They are able to work with students in smaller groups in a large classroom. When one student asks for help and sees an LA interaction, that snowballs and other students see that and begin participating and engaging in the work and gets them motivated to be active.

LAs are a catalyst and provide a certain level of energy. It is hard to be a guide for the student with such a large lecture classroom with about 300 students, and the LAs provide a good bridge of that gap as they are someone the students can relate to and more likely to listen to. Dr. Bowling says if it weren’t for LAs, he would’ve been frustrated and found it difficult to make active learning work well and would feel like it would be failing the students. The most significant benefit of LAs for the students in his class is that the LAs help the students work through activities and they will be more likely to do the work. Dr. Bowling shared a story about a student of his from a few years ago who said that Dr. Bowling’s class made them see it in a different way and the active learning helped so much with that. The LAs were also being credited, and this person ended up becoming an LA for Dr. Bowling and helped to develop some activities he uses today. The student then went on to graduate school in biology. Dr. Bowling said that, “In life and many things including education there is a givers gain. When you give you get back. If the LA is doing their job and the instructor is setting up the right environment for the LAs, the LAs get as much out of their job as much as they give. LAs help [my] job so much because the students aren’t getting the quality they should get [in the classroom] without LAs.” He says that the LAs are not just here to help students, but [the LAs] are also students of his. Dr. Bowling ended our conversation with saying that the LAs give him personal satisfaction in his own career.



LA of the Month: Will Beamswill_headshot.jpeg

The AULAP is also delighted to feature our October LA of the Month: Will Beams! Will is from Opelika Alabama and is an LA for Mrs. Heather Haskell’s Statistics for Biological and Health Sciences Class (STAT 2510). He knew that he always wanted to do something medical, so he went with the pre-med Biomedical Science major. Will is a member of the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity here on campus, he loves sports, hanging out with his friends, and working with kids, which plays in with his career aspirations of wanting to go into pediatrics.

He was introduced to the LA program through a professor of his, Mrs. Haskell, where he took statistics with her last fall, and the class utilized LAs. Mrs. Haskell mentioned the LA program and that she was looking for LAs, and since Will enjoyed how she taught it, he decided to apply to be an LA for her. Will says that the class can be confusing because it is abstract and can be hard to wrap your mind around, but it has been a good challenge to take on and it has been very rewarding for him. His experience with the LA program has been great and working with Mrs. Haskell and being an LA has helped him learn because he has to figure out how other people learn and other peoples’ learning style. He says that learning how the other students learn and being able to tailor to everyone and how different they learn has been very helpful for him.

Mrs. Haskell utilizes iClicker in her class after a lecture to tie into what she just taught and asks specific questions that will help the students grasp concepts. Will says that he will walk around while the students are doing their iClicker questions and check in on students, as well as spot check them. The questions are on TVs in the ACLC classroom and Mrs. Haskell will initiate to the students to ask the LAs questions as they walk around the classroom. Since the students are already sitting in groups, that helps to promote talking and engagement with the material and questions. Will said that, “A lot of times students are nervous to raise their hand and I check in because some people don’t want to speak up.” Many of Will’s questions come from the office hours that he holds, and he is able to tailor the questions specifically to the student who is asking it. He says that they come to him for assignment help and he tries to target the questions to see what they know, and then he goes from there. He goes for the deep conceptual questions and tackles what the student doesn’t understand on a deeper level with core concepts. In class if it is quiet when there is time for questions, it is usually because the students get the concepts, but he will still go to their tables and see how they’re doing. If there are no questions in class, he will go table to table and check on them. One of the challenges he has faced as an LA is that there are some questions that he doesn’t know, and it is frustrating to him when he can’t help the students or figure out a question.

However, he says that this doesn’t happen very often due to Mrs. Haskell preparing them very well. Mrs. Haskell holds weekly meetings with the LAs and send them documents to help the students with if there is something that they get stuck with. Will’s advice for students who want to become an LA is to “Do it for a class you know the professor well, and having the relationship with the professor makes it easy to engage with students. Do it for classes you like, and if you feel comfortable with the material because you want to be able to demonstrate those core concepts to students.” While Will doesn’t have any plans of becoming a teacher after graduating, he says that being an LA has impacted his future career development because learning is a life-long thing and it has helped with his communication skills, especially working with abstract concepts to explain to the students. Will says that overtime you can see the students’ progress, and that is very rewarding to watch.



For general inquiries about LAs and the program, contact Dr. Min Zhong.
For additional information specific to departments, please contact the departmental LA coordinators.

Min Zhong: zhongmi@auburn.edu

Math and Statistics:
Heather Haskell: hgh0035@auburn.edu

Rachel Prado: jrp0089@auburn.edu
Dave Crisostomo: dac0056@auburn.edu

Daniel Merrill: dam0040@auburn.edu
Melissa Halford: mrh0091@auburn.edu

John Fronimos: jaf0086@auburn.edu