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The OSU Learning Assistant Program

The OSU Learning Assistant Program

Learning from peers in science and mathematics classes

As a science student, you will discover and be pleasantly surprised by OSU's student-centered methods of teaching and learning. Your learning will be strengthened by peer engagement and increased student discourse during lecture in large enrollment science and mathematics courses.

OSU and the College of Science have emerged as pioneers in shaping a new era of improved science teaching, replacing the traditional lecture format with active learning strategies to maximize student engagement and learning in STEM courses. Studies have shown that students learn and retain key disciplinary concepts more effectively when instructors adopt evidence-based pedagogical approaches, such as interactive engagement with frequent feedback, in large introductory classes. At OSU, peer learning assistants facilitate discussions and collaborative learning in the classroom, promoting student learning skills and higher-order cognition that are important for success in science and mathematics majors.

Make your voice heard in a large classroom

In an OSU science or mathematics introductory class, you will never just be part of the crowd or left to your own resources to grapple with complex course material. Instructors and learning assistants will guide you to success by providing targeted feedback and useful interactions during class that will improve your problem solving skills and help you master foundational concepts.

The OSU Learning Assistant (LA) program aims to improve education and success of all STEM students and to promote use of evidence-based instructional strategies. Begun by biology faculty and award-winning educators Devon Quick and Lori Kayes and Dennis Bennett (Writing Center), the LA program has grown to impact 3500-4500 students per term. The program originated in integrative biology and has spread to other units, including physics, engineering, math, and more. In Fall 2017, the OSU LA Program had more than 100 LAs working with 19 different faculty, impacting more than 4,582 STEM students per term. Overall, courses transformed with the help of LAs have increased their student success rates. LAs help with introductory classes in biochemistry and biophysics, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics as well as engineering.

Want to be a learning assistant?

Ambitious, motivated science majors desirous of making a difference in the classroom can apply to be a part of the LA program. In addition to successfully completing the course, you are helping to teach, an LA will learn about pedagogy and the methods of teaching in a 2-credit 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.

As a learning assistant, you will develop professional interpersonal skills, deepen content knowledge, conduct 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.

The LA Program at OSU is supported by generous gifts from donors, which awards scholarships and a stipend to learning assistants, and was started with funds from the NSF WIDER grant called ESTEME@OSU.