Learning Assistant Program

Undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs) collaborate with faculty instructors and undergraduate/graduate teaching assistants (TAs) in the College of Science courses to build interactive, collaborative classroom environments.

While LAs’ impacts on student experience and achievement are well-documented, LAs themselves benefit significantly from their work.  LAs hone their understanding of foundational disciplinary concepts, which can lead to better performance in upper-division courses.  LAs cultivate listening skills and bring information that they’re hearing from students back to their instructional teams, where they practice advocating for targeted instructional supports.  Instructional teams and SCI 5050 offer opportunities to connect with peers, learn about on-campus resources, and build relationships that can lead to strong letters of recommendation. Perhaps most importantly, LAs learn about the complex psychology behind learning; by understanding ideas like Growth vs. Fixed Mindset, Imposter Phenomenon, and the structural inequities that can impact students’ varying mastery levels, LAs become comfortable participating in (and leading) productive, collaborative, discussion-based problem-solving.

The LA experience provides an opportunity for students to gain communication, facilitation, and leadership skills. Although LA responsibilities and expectations vary, all LAs receive $11/hr and generally work up to 10 hours per week.

In general, LAs can expect to:

  • Be a part of the instructional team in courses which actively engage learners
  • Facilitate students in small-group discussion during class time
  • Focus on supporting learners, rather than teachers (ex: LAs do not grade, but do plan questioning strategies to guide students through assignments)
  • Meet with their instructional team (instructor, TAs, LAs) weekly
  • Receive training in pedagogical theory and strategy as students in SCI 5050 – The Science of Learning

Students who are interested in applying for LA positions will find additional information on the application page.

Faculty members who are interested in having LA’s in their classroom may complete an online application to request a learning assistant. Funding for LAs is limited, and so they will be placed in the courses which are best suited to successfully implement the LA model.

For more information, please contact us at la@csme.utah.edu.

Additional information about the origins and impacts of the Learning Assistant model is available on the University of Colorado Boulder’s website.