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Center for Advancing STEM Teaching, Learning and Evaluation (CASTLE)

Overview

The Learning Assistant (LA) program is based on the model developed at the University of Colorado - Boulder.

The transformation of science courses involves creating environments in which students can interact with one another, engage in collaborative problem solving, and articulate and defend their ideas. To accomplish this, undergraduate LAs are hired to facilitate small-group or other interaction in the classroom.

RIT's model of the Learning Assistant (LA) Program is designed to achieve four goals:

  • Provide resources to help faculty implement and sustain pedagogical change in their classrooms
  • Recruit and prepare talented STEM majors for teaching careers
  • Engage faculty and departments in recruitment and preparation of future teachers
  • Improve the quality of STEM education for all undergraduates!


Courses Supported by LA Program

Life Sciences

Physics & Astronomy

Applications of GIS

College Physics I & II

Cellular & Molecular Biology

University Astronomy

Concepts of Environmental Science

University Physics I & II

Environmental Science Field Skills

 

General Biology I & II

College of Applied Science & Technology

General Organic Biochemistry I

DC Circuits

Genetics

Electronics Measurements

Introduction to Biology I & II

Engineering Communication & Tolerancing

Introduction to Bioinformatics

Fundamentals of Engineering

Introduction to Microbiology

Mechanical Dynamics

Soil Science

Principles of Statics

   

Mathematics

 

Boundary Value Problems

Other

College Algebra

University Writing

Complex Variables

Metacognitive Approaches to Scientific Inquiry

Mathematical Modeling

 

Multivariable Calculus & Differential Equations

NTID

Precalculus

American Sign Language

 

Interpreting I & II

Chemistry & Material Sciences

 

General and Analytical Chemistry I & II

 

Important Learning Assistant Program Dates:

Friday, October 20 Spring Recruitment Fair 12:30-2:30pm, Gosnell (8) A300, Application process open
Friday, October 27 Application deadline
Friday, November 3 Applicant / mentor interviews completed
Monday, November 13 Notifications are sent out via email

CASTLE Annual Symposium

Faculty and Learning Assistants wishing to share their research can present a poster at the annual CASTLE symposium in May. To view RIT’s College of Science poster printing guidelines, visit https://www.rit.edu/science/posters.

Dr. Geraldine Cochran featured in thumbnail for video about the Learning Assistants program.

Watch the video »

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Learning Assistant (LA) Program?

The LA Program is designed to give students a genuine teaching experience with student-centered pedagogies. In its third year at RIT, the program was developed by SMERC (the Science and Mathematics Education Research Collaborative). It has been modeled by the very successful LA Program at the University of Colorado - Boulder. Faculty and students separately submit components of a joint application.

What are the benefits of the LA Program?

Benefits of the LA Program are extensive and far-reaching. LAs gain invaluable classroom and people skills that are often not acquired by passively taking classes. LAs take initiative, develop teaching methods, and network with RIT faculty. Leadership positions holds more weight on a resume than being a Teaching Assistant (TA) does, since LAs have bigger responsibilities than TAs, and can help their peers in the classroom more than TAs.

What role do LAs have?

The primary role of the LA in a classroom is to mediate discussion-based learning between the students in the course. LAs help the students solve problems themselves and aid without handing out solutions. LAs will meet weekly with their faculty mentor where they help plan course activities. Outside of the course, LAs hold weekly student help-sessions. LA experiences will not be the same across different courses - their roles and responsibilities will be determined between the faculty mentor and themselves, before and during the course.

Can there be more than one LA for a particular course?

For most courses, two LAs will be hired to work together in developing teaching methods as it gives the LAs a chance to gain teamwork, and leadership skills.

The application process for the 2185 Spring Semester will be open October 20 - 27.

Student Application

Faculty Application

Questions?

Email: ritlaprogram@rit.edu
Phone: 585-475-7828

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