The STEM Communities Project team and participating faculty are seeking undergraduate students to help improve their peers’ experiences in STEM courses in Fall 2021 and beyond. As an undergraduate Learning Assistant (LA), you will help redesign a specific STEM course with a team of faculty and other students, as well as facilitate student dialogue around challenging content in that course. The current courses being redesigned through the STEM Communities Project are: BIO 1330 (Functional Biology); BIO 1331 (Organismal Biology); CHEM 1341 (General Chemistry I); CHEM 3375 (Principles of Biochemistry - Fall semesters only); MATH 2472 (Calculus II); and PHYS 1335 (General Physics I for Life Sciences Majors - new course!).
LAs also help to sustain student-centered instruction in the introductory calculus-based physics courses: PHYS 1430 (Mechanics), PHYS 2425 (Electricity and Magnetism), and PHYS 2435 (Waves and Heat), as well as selected upper-division physics courses. You can read more about the Physics Learning Assistant Program here.
Why participate as an undergraduate Learning Assistant?
As a participating LA, you can…
Help current and future STEM students have positive experiences and be successful in a specific course: BIO 1330, BIO 1331, CHEM 1341, CHEM 3375*, MATH 2472, PHYS 1335 (new course), PHYS 1430, PHYS 2425, or PHYS 2435.
Deepen your own understanding of STEM course content
Gain valuable leadership and communication skills
Develop meaningful relationships with STEM faculty
Become a member of a supportive community
*Note that CHEM 3375 is only offered in Fall semesters
As an LA, you will also receive…
- $11/hour for participating in program activities, typically 5-10 hours/week during a Fall or Spring semester
Guidance from the STEM Communities team and participating faculty at collaborative weekly preparation sessions during the semester (Fridays, 11-1pm - Biology & Physics for Life Sciences or 12-2pm - Math, Chemistry, and Physics), as well as a pre-semester kickoff event (during the week before the first week of classes - exact date TBD)
Support for developing your instructional knowledge and skills through a seminar-style STEM pedagogy course for first-semester LAs (Mondays 3:30-5:30pm or Tuesdays 5-7pm)
What does a Learning Assistant do?
Plan with Faculty
Learning assistants (LAs) and their lead instructors meet in weekly preparation sessions to prepare for upcoming classes. LAs contribute by giving input on how students are interacting with the course activities (i.e. what worked well/not so well in previous sessions) and strategizing with the lead instructor about how to deliver the next lessons. In the STEM Communities project, LAs will also work with multiple instructors to plan and iteratively improve on larger-scale changes to the course as a member of a course redesign team.
Learn and Reflect on STEM Pedagogy
Through their LA experiences and the STEM Cognition and Pedagogy course, LAs will have opportunities to evaluate the process of STEM teaching and learning and examine structures and practices that facilitate and/or inhibit student learning. By taking the STEM Cognition and Pedagogy Course, LAs will be able to:
identify key theories and findings of STEM education research, including culturally responsive teaching;
apply insights from STEM education research to their peer instruction contexts;
evaluate cognitive processes that foster individual learning;
examine how students engage within collaborative groups;
describe the systemic nature of barriers to pursuing STEM careers; and
identify specific barriers to student success that can emerge in the classroom, educational systems, and professional STEM communities.
Work with Student Groups
LAs guide their peers in small group discussions. LAs facilitate student engagement with course content by eliciting student thinking and ensuring that each group member participates in developing joint understanding.