RIT hosts Northeast Regional Learning Assistant Workshop

Educational workshop on student-centered program

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A learning assistant working with students in a science course.

Dozens of faculty from colleges along the East Coast will visit campus to gain insight about how the Learning Assistant program is transforming STEM education at RIT.

The two-day Northeast Regional Learning Assistant Workshop, supported by the Learning Assistant Alliance, will be held April 1-2 at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science building. Faculty, program coordinators and administrators will attend a series of informational sessions on a variety of topics including the essential elements of the learning assistant model, pedagogy and content preparation courses and starting a program.

The Learning Assistant program was developed at the University of Colorado Boulder and has grown into a National Learning Assistant Alliance, of which RIT is a founding member. The goal of the program is for faculty and undergraduate students to develop science curricula that foster student-centered environments in the classroom. Students are hired as learning assistants for a variety of purposes, including preparing class materials and facilitating small and large group discussions.

“Because the learning assistants’ primary role is to facilitate student group learning, their presence increases the amount of collaborative learning occurring in STEM classrooms at all levels, from introductory and foundational through upper-level majors courses,” said Scott Franklin, director of the Learning Assistant program. “With the learning assistants’ help, faculty have been implementing a wide range of pedagogical techniques, including tested methods developed elsewhere and innovations developed in-house. Retention through foundational physics, math, biology and chemistry classes is significantly higher in learning assistant facilitated courses.”

Following the workshop will be the Learning Assistant Recruitment Fair from 1 to 2 p.m. April 8 at Gosnell Hall. The fair includes an overview presentation of the program, student panel discussion made up of current and former learning assistants and an opportunity for faculty to meet program representatives.

To learn more about the Northeast Regional Learning Assistant Workshop at https://www.rit.edu/science/laworkshop.