Learning Assistant Information for Faculty

Update regarding remote instruction for Spring 2020:

The LA Program is here to support faculty as they integrate their current LAs to their classes as noted in an email sent by Dr. Corey Ptak to all faculty mentors on 3/11/20. The LAs and the LA Program will work to help you achieve your active learning goals during this time. We will be providing online training to LAs to familiarize them with best practices in online active learning strategies. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Ptak at: corey.ptak@rutgers.edu 

The Learning Assistant Program closed its Course Support Requests for the 2020-2021 academic year on January 31, 2020. For any questions or to discuss the possibility of partnering with the LA Program in the future, please email Dr. Corey Ptak at corey.ptak@rutgers.edu

SUPPORT FOR FACULTY

We know that reworking your entire course to fit into an online format is a daunting task and it is difficult to translate the active learning components of your course online.  The LAs and the LA Program are here to help you achieve your active learning goals during this time. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to see an attached document containing some recommendations for ways LAs can support your course if it moves online. 

LA study groups will continue to be offered at the same times but will also be moved to an online format.  If you feel that you will not be able to utilize your LAs in an online setting for your lecture, lab or recitation and would like to have your LA run online study groups instead please reach out so we can make the necessary arrangements.

Over Spring Break we will be offering the Learning assistants training on running online study groups using conferencing tools in canvas, as well as facilitating discussion boards and question feeds through canvas. 

The LA program and the learning centers are committed to maintaining high quality academic supports no matter what actions the University takes in regards to COVID-19.  Please reach out to us if there is any assistance we can give your course during this hectic time by contacting Dr. Corey Ptak at corey.ptak@rutgers.edu. 

The Learning Assistant Model:

Learning Assistants (LAs)  have been used to promote active learning, help incorporate educational practices into the classroom, and improve student retention. The benefits to faculty, students and the learning assistant themselves are clear.  The Rutgers LA program follows an international model and as such every learning assistant experience must include the following:

1)  Authentic Classroom Practice - Learning Assistants (LAs) participate in classrooms in a number of important ways.  Particularly, LAs should be engaged in student centered learning where they are able to apply their pedagogical training to facilitating cooperative learning of small groups.  LAs in many ways are analogous to student teachers and require authentic teaching experiences.  As such,  Learning assistants should be viewed as pedagogical agents of the course and be included in development of course materials including worksheets, classroom exercises, homework/quiz questions.  LAs should not be conducting weekly review sessions but should be focused on active learning in small groups (e.g problem sets, worksheets, activities etc).  LAs cannot be used to grade, proctor, or hold 1-on-1 office hours. 

2) Pedagogical Training -  All LAs are required to take our "Pedagogy of Peer-Led Instruction" course. In this class, the LAs learn about pedagogical techniques that can be directly applied to their classroom practices.  The students also learn about different learning theories and take time to reflect on how these theories play out in their own classroom experiences. 

3) Mentorship - The LA program provides pedagogical training to the LAs but the faculty mentor provides content knowledge and context.  The LA-Mentor relationship is critical to successful implementation of the learning assistant model. This mentorship works in both directions.  Faculty have extensive experience to help guide the LA while Learning assistants offer student perspectives and pedagogical training. The Rutgers LA program is committed to positive mentorship and request that LA mentors:

                   a)  Meet with their Learning Assistants for at least 1 hour each week to prepare
                         the LAs for the coming week

                    b)  Give the Learning Assistant feedback on their performance in the classroom
                         and/or any course materials the LA creates

                    c)  Reflect on course materials and student engagement

 

LA Responsibilities:

  • The LA role focuses on creating active and collaborative learning environments. LAs work with students and help guide them through the course, while coordinating with the faculty instructor
  • LAs do not:
    • Proctor or grade exams and tests
    • Prep for labs with teaching assistants
    • Work as teaching assistants
    • Help faculty instructor in teaching a class
  • For complete information on student role, responsibilities, professional development, and compensation, please go to https://rlc.rutgers.edu/services/learning-assistant-program.