What are Learning Assistants?
Learning Assistants (LAs) are undergraduate peer educators that work with students in the classroom setting to support and facilitate active learning in courses that are traditionally difficult or have high enrollment. LAs in CLAP are unique because they are required to enroll in an LA pedagogy/training course concurrent to their first quarter as an LA. In most situations, LAs have taken the course (or a professor-approved, equivalent course) and have performed well in it. LAs are an important part of the instructional team. In the classroom, LAs support professors and graduate teaching assistants (TAs) with active learning- typically in the form of group activities or discussions. Outside the classroom, LAs meet, reflect, and plan course curriculum and student progress with professors and TAs on a weekly basis. LAs are not permitted to lead instruction (unsupervised), hold independent office hours, or perform any course-related administrative tasks, such as grading.
What do Learning Assistants actually do?
The main responsibility of an LA is to support their professor and TAs by assisting students while they are engaged in active learning. LAs are expected to interact with students to facilitate collaborative activities and discussions. LAs are not expected to be content experts. LAs are trained to become learning experts. Undoubtedly, students will have many questions. LAs do not immediately respond to student questions or misconceptions with answers. Instead, LAs learn to guide students to their own conclusions at a metacognitive level. From an observer’s standpoint, LAs circulate the classroom, assist students that ask for help, and check for understanding with all students.
What is the Learning Assistant pedagogy/training course?
All LAs, new to the program, must enroll in UNI STU 176: LA Pedagogy during their first quarter as an LA. Once completed, LAs are certified and do not need to take the course again. It is a 2 unit, graded course that teaches LAs to be effective at facilitating active learning and collaborative group work. This training course is mandatory for all new LAs, and there are no alternatives or exceptions. While pedagogical theory is a focus of the course, its aim is to take that theory and put it to immediate practical use. UNI STU 176 meets once a week for Weeks 1 – Week 10. Currently, UNI STU 176 has two options and is scheduled for the same days and times each quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring).
- UNI STU 176: Section A- Wed 2:00-3:50p
- UNI STU 176: Section B- Thur 2:00-3:50p
What are the Learning Assistants’ weekly commitments?
The following list is typical for most courses. Actual commitments will vary by course and/or professor. Since course schedules vary from quarter to quarter, LA positions are determined on a quarterly basis.
- LAs attend weekly planning meetings with their professor and TAs (1 hour/week)
- LAs attend/support all lectures in their assigned section (3 hours/week)
- LAs are assigned to attend/support 2-4 discussion sections or 1-3 lab sections (2-4 hours/week)
- For Lecture-Only courses, some LAs will assist professors and TAs in their office hours
How are Learning Assistants compensated?
All compensation is determined by School or Department. Most LAs are compensated with units. LAs in CLAP enroll in UNI STU 198: LA Mentorship and earn 1-3 units. LAs earn units based on the number of hours/week they are assigned to support their course. In most cases, LAs earn 1 unit per 3-4 hours/week. If a school or department has approved funding, some LAs are paid with monetary compensation. Please contact the school or department for more details about their specific LA compensation policy.
How can I become a Learning Assistant?
Most LA positions are open by invitation only. Schools, departments, and professors are responsible for recruiting their own LAs. However, CLAP does assist with recruiting, when needed. If you’re interested in becoming an LA, contact the school, department, or professor for more information about their recruiting requirements.
Still have questions?
Contact Josh Arimond, Lead Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org