What do RIT Program Learning Assistants Do?
Learning Assistants are undergraduates who are hired to facilitate small-group interaction in a classroom setting. LAs can work up to 10 hours/week (150 hours maximum/semester) and receive an hourly wage set by the State of New York ($11.80/hour for 2020; $12.50/hour for 2021). The LA experience is valuable for students who continue on to any career, and will be a major addition to one's CV.
If you are interested in learning more about the practice of teaching and being a learning assistant in the classroom, visit our Additional Resources Page.
LAs from all departments are required to take a special 2-credit pedagogy course where they reflect on their own teaching and learning and make connections to relevant education literature. This course is offered both Fall and Spring semesters. It must be taken concurrently with your first LA experience. See course description below:
Pedagogy Course Description:
Research and practice introduces students to the research, theories, and applications of disciplinary-based education research (DBER). The course covers cognitive theories of learning (e.g. transfer and representational models) and their application to the disciplinary context. Classroom activities will include video examples of science learning environments, which students will analyze for level of engagement, analysis of a variety of conceptual and epistemological evaluations, and direct data analysis. Independent and/or group projects will allow for deeper study within the student’s chosen discipline.
View Learning Assistant Posters Here
LA Responsibilities and Possibilities
- help transform STEM courses by creating environments in which students can interact with one another, engage in collaborative problem solving, articulate and defend their ideas, and explicitly discuss aspects of the nature of science and the nature of learning science
- gain experience and training in teaching to test out as a career option
- achieve mastery of coursework
- facilitate collaboration among learning etams by formatively assessing student understanding and asking guiding questions
- be a member of the LA community and network
- benefit from weekly meetings with faculty mentor
- learn to analyze student assessment data
- enhance one's CV with inclusion of this experience
Students will complete a research project that connects pedagogy coursework to Learning Assistant work. Using the tools of formative assessment and the theories learned in class, the project will examine some aspect of teaching and learning in the classroom. Through class discussions and work with your faculty mentor, you will identify a project to be performed in the classroom. The goal is to collect observations/data from students over the course of the semester and then ask “why is this happening”. Formulate a theory as to why students understand a concept/behave in a particular way. The purpose of this project is to examine your theory in a systematic way.
Goals of the Research Project:
- Provide insights into how students learn the course content by identifying things that enhance or hinder student learning OR
- Design instructional intervention that can help students work through their difficulties
To be a part of the Learning Assistant Program students must fill out the application found here. Once completed, prospective students will be invited for preliminary interviews. Following that, students may have interviews with LA Committee Members and prospective mentors. Matches between mentors and students will be decided in the two weeks preceding the start of the Fall 2021 semester, with offer letters being sent during this period. For more information on the application, interview, and acceptance process, please contact the Program Coordinator, Emily Mehlman (firstname.lastname@example.org).