LAs are undergraduates who are hired to facilitate small-group interaction in our large-enrollment courses. They are paid a modest stipend ($300/semester) for participating in the program, as well as, and hourly wage (~$1600/semester) to work 10 hours per week in various aspects of course transformation. The LA experience is valuable for students who continue on to any career, and will be a major addition to one's CV.
LAs help transform large-enrollment 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.
The LA experience has three main themes; content, practice, and pedagogy. These themes are brought in through four related activities:
LAs help facilitate collaboration among learning teams by formatively assessing student understanding and asking guiding questions. This can occur through the facilitation of small discussions groups in classes and/or in recitations/help sessions. LAs will use good questioning skills and work to involve all students in meaningful group work. They also meet weekly with their faculty instructors to plan for the upcoming week, reflect on the previous week, and analyze student assessment data.
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:
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.
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:
The goals are to provide insights into how the 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
LAs will be expected to participate in a variety of observations, assessments, and questionnaires. The data will help track LAs' experiences and will be used to improve the LA Program in the future.
LAs are a part of a larger learning community. To foster a sense of community, they will be invited to participate in many of the RIT SMERC events including seminars, discussions, journal clubs, dinners, social events, and planning sessions. They will get to network with other LAs as well as College of Science faculty
Applications for the 2191 Fall Semester is now closed.
New LAs must register for the 2 credit LA Pedagogy course held once a week – ITDS 359 01:STEM Education: Research and Practice.