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Learning Assistants Program

What is a Learning Assistant?

Learning assistants, or LAs, are undergraduates who serve as peer educators in courses that they have previously taken. They facilitate small-group discussions, listen to students’ ideas, and prompt students to think deeper about challenging content. They often help in implementing active learning components of a course, helping students think through exercises in which they answer work in groups to answer conceptual questions, work on problems, discuss different scientific models/perspectives, or summarize/organize complex material. Thus, LAs’ role within the course is to promote student discussion and understanding in class; they do not grade or fill other administrative roles.

How are LAs prepared and supported?

LAs enroll in a 2-credit Learning Assistant Pedagogy course. In this course, LAs learn about both theories of learning and the practice of teaching, preparing them to interact with students and support productive discussions.

In addition, LAs  participate in 1-hour weekly prep sessions led by the instructor(s) of the course in which they’re serving as an LA. In these sessions, the group reviews the week ahead, discussing challenging concepts, developing and engaging in upcoming lecture activities, and reflecting on student learning.

LAs also receive a stipend of $1500 per semester.

Different scenarios in which an LA can work

LAs can facilitate clicker questions and other short exercises that are interspersed during lecture. They can also facilitate longer problem-solving sessions at the end of lecture. They can also work with a supervising graduate TA with a recurring small group in recitation sections.

 

People

VU LAs

Spring 2021

Fall 2020

Fall 2019

BSCI 2520:
Biochemistry
Tony Chen
Jennifer Du
Sophia Gerberg
Michael McGuire
Katie Radulovacki
Jaszmine Simmons
Maureen Ubani

BSCI 3252:
Cellular Neurobiology
Quenten Lakey
Jared Plotkin

BSCI 2205:
Evolution
Sarah Saxton Strassberg
Ellen Yu

BSCI 2210:
Genetics
Anoop Chandrashekar
Margaret Clement
Olivia Pembridge
Bennett Schneier
Liraz Stilman
Anna Young

BSCI 1510:
Intro to Biological Sciences
Sarah Commaroto
Kolapo Dairo
Hanwen Feng
Emilia Ferreira
Melissa Goldin
Anica Mohammadkhah
Cindy Nwokedi
Aashvi Patel
Olivia Pembridge
Jared Plotkin
Katie Radulovacki
Jaszmine Simmons
Sarah Saxton Strassberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BSCI 1510:
Intro to Biological Sciences
Jamie Dyvig
Hanwen Feng
Abigale Harrelson
Laurie Lapp
Anica Mohammadkhah
Jared Plotkin
Grace Pulliam
Jaszmine Simmons
Sarah Saxton Strassberg
Emily Vega

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faculty who have incorporated LAs into their course(s)

Fall 2019

  • Thomas Clements and Todd Graham (BSCI 1510)

Fall 2020

  • Thomas Clements and Kathy Friedman (BSCI 1510)

Spring 2021

  • Nicole Creanza and Jessica Gilpin (BSCI 2205)
  • Thomas Clements and Kathy Friedman (BSCI 2210)
  • Hemant Badgandi and Lars Plate (BSCI 2520)
  • Kendal Broadie and Doug McMahon  (BSCI 3252)

Fall 2021

  • Thomas Clements and Kathy Friedman (BSCI 1510)
  • Todd Graham and Jim Patton (BSCI 1510)
  • Tara Todd (CHEM 1601)
  • Lily Claiborne (EES 1510)
  • Savanna Starko (PHYS 1501)
  • Adriane Seiffert (PSY 2100)

LA Leadership Team

Thomas Clements, Ph.D.
BSCI 1510 Instructor and LA Director in Biological Sciences

Katherine Friedman, Ph.D.
BSCI 1510 Instructor and
Vice Chair of Biological Sciences

Cynthia Brame, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Teaching

Jessica Watkins, Ph.D.
Pedagogy Course Instructor, Faculty member in Department of Teaching & Learning

Heather Johnson, Ph.D.
Pedagogy Course Instructor, Faculty member in Department of Teaching & Learning

Resources

Learning Assistance Alliance