Learning Assistants are undergraduates serving in a number of possible roles: undergraduate teaching assistant, teaching assistant intern, peer mentor, peer facilitator, consultant, or tutor. Undergraduates who are serving as graders-only are not considered learning assistants.
A learning assistant is not a replacement for a graduate teaching assistant, rather, an undergraduate learning assistant should be treated as a different role with more scaffolded support and distinct responsibilities.
- The position should be posted publicly and promoted strategically, with qualifications, application process, and deadline to apply clearly articulated (e.g., Learning assistants had to have taken the course previously and earned at least x grade). To promote the opening, consider using advising listserv messages and Handshake along with fliers, social media, etc. Application materials might include a resume, references, and/or a brief teaching philosophy.
- Learning assistants should be chosen through an established selection process that includes a brief interview (ideally conducted by the instructor of record and an experienced learning assistant).
- The grade the applicant received in the course they hope to support as well as subsequent courses in a sequence and/or overall GPA may be considered.
- A hiring agreement or contract should clearly outline time commitment, pay, training, supervision, and evaluation.
- Learning assistants should be paid by the hour, and all manner of work for the position (attending class sessions, training, teaching meetings, preparing for class sessions, responding to emails from students in the class, grading, etc.) should be included as time worked.
Ideally, students will enroll in a 0 or for-credit course that would allow them to:
- Earn experiential learning (EL) credit (be sure to propose the course for EL credit and list it as Student Teaching /Practicum)
- When the course is for-credit, students will earn credit toward a major or minor in the discipline, or other degree requirement rather than just elective credit.
- Reference a functional syllabus outlining specific requirements and grading scale/assessment rubric (either letter grade or P/NP as applicable.). LAs must receive ongoing feedback to ensure that they are satisfying the expectations of the role and making progress in the course.
If the course is for credit, the number of credit hours should correspond to the time commitment and accompanying academic work of the position.
Learning assistants must receive both:
- General training in how to perform the role through the CAS Canvas module developed in collaboration with the CTT, available beginning Fall 2023.
- Training specific to the course they are supporting/tutoring they are doing from the instructor of the course or from the unit offering the course/providing the tutoring service.
Expectations for Learning Assistants
The following items should be articulated in the hiring agreement or contract, as well as in the syllabus for any associated 0 or for-credit course for LAs:
- Duties, responsibilities, and expectations of the role
- Time commitment
- Training sessions
- Weekly expectation and any likely variation from week to week (e.g. Mid-term or final exam weeks)
- What to do if you are unable to participate as planned
- Communication preferences (how and when the LA should communicate with the faculty coordinating their work)
- Conduct expectations (e.g., classroom behavior, FERPA/confidentiality, etc.)
- Rules and procedures surrounding grading (if applicable)
- Rules and procedures surrounding disability accommodations (if applicable)
Limitations for Learning Assistants
- Undergraduates cannot work more than 20 hours a week. Given the responsibilities associated with the work, LAs assigned stand-alone recitations should be limited to 2 recitations a term.
- Learning Assistants cannot be listed as the Instructor of Record for credit-bearing labs or recitations in CLSS. They can be named as leading a recitation as long as faculty is listed as Instructor of Record for the credit-bearing portion of the course.
Expectations for Faculty Coordinating Learning Assistants
- Faculty coordinating the LAs should schedule regular, planned meetings with the LAs.
- Faculty coordinating the LAs should give them feedback on their performance. Some units have added specific questions about LAs to course feedback surveys; this can be helpful for providing individual LAs feedback as well as understanding the overall contributions of LAs to the course.
- When the LA’s role involves leading a lab or recitation, they should be provided with a lesson plan for each session. The LAs can develop lesson plans, but they should not be expected to do this without detailed guidance and feedback from the professor.
- Faculty must be listed as the instructor of record for the section led by a learning assistant and is responsible for what happens in the classroom/lab.