As a Learning Assistant, you will develop professional interpersonal skills, deepen content knowledge, learn about primary education research and establish relationships with faculty. LAs provide faculty with support for implementing high impact teaching practices in class (active learning, frequent formative assessment, personalized and adaptive feedback to students). LAs become community leaders and peer mentors centered on academics. LAs develop as scientists and feel connected to the profession.
“I am making excellent connections with students, and adapting to best connect with different learning styles. I also become a better teacher and chemist, the more times I explain information in different ways.”
General chemistry Learning Assistant
Boost your career prospects
LAs engage in professional experiences beginning with their application to become an LA. In most cases, LAs are formally interviewed before being offered a position. (In other cases, faculty may have pre-existing relationships with LAs that make interviews unnecessary.) Once hired, LAs participate in a formal LA Orientation and are provided an Employment Guide to assist them in their work. Each week, new LAs engage in regular reflection about their work as LAs. All LAs are invited to complete midterm reflections about their work. In addition, LAs become part of the community of the College of Science student employees and are invited to ongoing professional development workshops and activities.
Get connected: Learning Assistant Alliance
Connect with other students on the Oregon State University campus, and across the world, through the Learning Assistant Alliance website. Through this site you can learn how other institutions are working with Learning Assistants as well as access an online undergraduate assessment tool (LASSO).
LA supported courses
As the Learning Assistant Program continues to grow, more and more classes are able to benefit from LA support. The program has spread to undergraduate courses in physics, chemistry, statistics, mathematics and integrative biology, now impacting more than 20,000 enrollments per year.
Frequently asked questions
What is a learning assistant (LA), and how is it different from being a teaching assistant (TA)?
LAs are high performing students who have previously completed the course (or a similar course) in which they are facilitating student learning. LAs are actively involved in the course alongside faculty or graduate teaching assistants, helping students learn. In some cases, LAs work with faculty to develop course materials and implement innovative approaches for student learning. LAs do not evaluate the students that they work with (i.e., they do not grade student work, though they may examine student work to inform facilitation strategies). This is different from being a teaching assistant (TA), who typically assumes grading responsibilities.
What does an LA do?
Depending on the department and course, LAs work about 5-10 hours a week to facilitate student success. Part of that work involves weekly meetings with lead faculty and other LAs. When interacting with students, LAs typically facilitate small group discussions during class time or at help sessions, or work with students in remote or online spaces. In particular, LAs provide targeted feedback and informal mentoring to students.
Does becoming an LA require special training?
Usually to become an LA you must first successfully complete the course (or a similar course) you are facilitating. All LAs must learn about how people learn through the LA Pedagogy course. In this course, new LAs read and discuss relevant education pedagogy, reflect on and share their experiences in the classroom, and learn about specific discipline-based techniques they can implement. The LA Pedagogy course is available for 0 credit or 2 credits (SCI 004 or 499). Most students choose to complete the course as 0 credits, though regardless of student enrollment choice, students must complete all required components. By offering the course as 0 credits, students can opt to have transcript visible evidence of their LA experience without incurring tuition and fees.
What are the benefits of being an LA?
Being an LA is a paid position in which you work closely with disciplinary faculty. Through this experience, LAs deepen their content knowledge, develop interpersonal professional skills, and learn how to be better students. LAs also grow their science identity and connectedness to their disciplines and OSU.