AULAP Information for Students



 

What is a Learning Assistant?

Learning Assistants are undergraduate students who, through the guidance of weekly preparation sessions and a pedagogy course, facilitate discussions among groups of students in a variety of classroom settings that encourage active engagement.


LA Roles and Responsibilities

The main responsibility of an LA is to support the transformed classroom by assisting students be engaged in active learning activities, such as team-based discussion, problem-solving or project. LAs are not expected to be content experts but are the connectors between instructors and students. They are well trained with the evidence-based instructional practices from the pedagogy course, and then tasked to facilitate collaborative learning by in a variety of classroom settings, including:

  • Large Classroom Settings

  • Small Classroom Settings

  • Flipped Classrooms

  • Recitation Style Sessions

  • Oral Assessments

  • Online Courses

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


LA’s weekly commitments

LA’s actual commitments vary by course and/or instructor. The following list is typical weekly commitments for most LAs. LAs are NOT expected to work over 10 hours per week.

LA positions are determined on a semester basis. LA hiring information will be posted on the program homepage about 2 months before each semester (spring or fall).

  • New LAs are required to take the 1-credit pedagogy course (1 hour/week)

  • participate weekly content preparation meetings with the instructors and/or TAs (typically 1 hour/week)

  • participate all classes/labs in their assigned sections (typically 3 hours/week)

  • host regular office hours weekly or bi-weekly (1 hour/week or biweekly)

  • provide other support for content review, class material preparation, tutorial homework, responding to questions on virtual discussion board or course feedback, as needed (1-2 hours/week).

 

Compensation

The compensation for new LAs is $10/hour, for returning LAs is $11.25/hour.

Maximum weekly commitment is 10 hours or $1000 per semester, whichever comes first. You have the flexibility to do office hours, reviews, ... as you see fit and is ok with your instructor.

 


LA Experience

Learning Assistants engage in three main activities as part of the LA Model: Weekly Preparation meeting (Plan with faculty), Pedagogy Course (learn and reflect on effective pedagogy), and Practice (work with and support students in the classroom).

  • Weekly content preparation sessions (Weekly Preparation): LAs meet with their coordinators and/or faculty as a team at least once per week to prepare for future classes, develop deeper content understanding, explore specific pedagogical content knowledge, and exchange information about how students are progressing in the course.

  • Pedagogy course (Pedagogy): The pedagogy course introduces LAs to educational research, active learning, and strategies that support: (1) eliciting student ideas and helping all group members become active and engaged in the class; (2) listening and questioning; (3) building relationships; and (4) integrating learning theories with effective practices.

  • Interaction with groups of students (Practice): Learning Assistants interact with students by facilitating discussions about conceptual problems within the discipline. LAs focus mainly on eliciting student thinking and helping each student participate in developing a shared understanding.

In summary, the LA model integrates the development of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and practice for all participants by beginning the teacher preparation process early in students’ undergraduate careers and by involving mathematics and science faculty in this process. The experience is valuable for students who move on to any career. The participation of mathematics and science research faculty in the active recruitment of teachers has led to departmental cultures that encourage rather than discourage teaching as a legitimate and valuable career option for our most talented mathematics and science students.

AULAP hosts 1 or 2 times of LA panel sections per year to answer questions from professors and the community about how students are experiencing the program and how experienced LAs are helping faculty and students. Check the program homepage for the upcoming events.

 

LA Mentorship Program

Experienced LAs can play a variety of roles in an institution's LA Program. They can assist faculty with course revisions, develop instructional materials. They can assist and co-lead weekly preparation sessions or becoming involved in the pedagogy course. They can also serve as mentors to less experienced LAs. At the national level, experienced LAs can serve on panels, give presentations on the LA Model and can serve on national leadership committees such as the LAA Leadership Council. LA Panels are a regular fixture at the regional/local LA workshops and the international conference.

The LA Mentors Program is an effort to better support LAs, faculty, and students.

Experienced LAs (undergraduates who have previously gone through the LA Program) serve as LA Mentors for first-time LAs and they also assist faculty new to using LAs.

What LA mentors do are:

  • Organizing a weekly/biweekly meeting with a small group of LA mentees
  • Observing settings in which LAs are used and consult with their mentee and faculty member throughout the semester.
  • Working directly with the LA Pedagogy Course instructors to provide opportunities for LAs to learn throughout a term.
  • Facilitating the new LA orientation
  • Participating in LA program events
  • Supporting the LA program development
  • The time commitment for an LA mentor is 10-15 hours per semester.

Contact Dr. Min Zhong (zhongmi@auburn.edu) if you are interested in being an LA mentor.

 LA Mentorship Process

 

 LAs as part of Panels

LAs have specific experience and expertise that support the implementation of the LA Model and they can be excellent resources and supporters of the model.

Only experienced LAs (e.g. LA mentors) can join the panels. LA mentors can work for panels.

What LA panels can do include:

  • Participating in LA program events
  • Facilitating the regional/local LA workshops/conference
  • Supporting LA recruitment events
  • The time commitment is 5-10 hours per semester.

Contact Dr. Min Zhong (zhongmi@auburn.edu) if you are interested in serving on the panel.

Check this video to learn from an example of an LA Panel where students from Harold Washington College and Chicago State University respond to questions from a facilitator and questions from participants at this regional workshop. The video is from the 2016 Regional LA Workshop in Chicago hosted jointly by Harold Washington College and Chicago State University.

Video: https://sites.google.com/view/laa-resources/ways-to-use-las/roles-for-experienced-las

LA involvement in Education Research

LAs, through the support of the pedagogy course and weekly preparation sessions, develop excellent skills and understanding of effective pedagogy. They can also develop ownership of instructional material and develop an appreciation of research based instructional curriculum. Because of these skills and experience they can make excellent researchers who focus on education and best supporting peers in the STEM classroom.

Here is one example of education research work led by undergraduate LAs:

Davenport, F. Amezcua, M. Sabella, A. Van Duzor, 2017 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, Exploring the Underlying Factors in Learning Assistant - Faculty Partnerships

 

 


Applying to be an LA

LA are usually self-motivated and passionate about the subject they are helping for. LAs benefit themselves from the following aspects:

  • get trained with evidence-based instructional practices from the pedagogy course

  • practice what they learned by helping students learn more effectively in LA-supported courses

  • increase their course content knowledge

  • improve their communication and interpersonal skills

  • build a close relationship with both students and faculty

 

 


Interested in being an LA?

If you have any questions, contact either the department coordinators or Dr. Min Zhong