What do Learning Assistants do?
Learning Assistants (LAs) are undergraduate students who are hired to support student learning through research-validated teaching and learning pedagogical techniques. LAs are paid a stipend to work 8-9 hours per week including:
- Support students in various aspects of a course; including lecture, recitation, laboratories, office hours, and/or Help Rooms
- Collaborate in weekly meetings with faculty and instructional team members
- Prepare independently for student interactions
LAs work with their Lead Faculty to transform courses by creating environments in which students can interact with one another, engage in collaborative problem solving, articulate and defend their ideas, and explicitly discuss aspects of the nature of teaching and learning within their specific disciplines.
What do LAs find impactful about this experience?
These words came from end of semester surverys from Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, and responses to the LA Graduation Survey from the past 5 years. Words are scaled relative to the frequency they were used.
How do I apply to become an LA?
Applications for LA positions are typically open for approximately two weeks each semester, starting in mid-October (for Spring positions) and early March (for Fall positions). Currently there is not a mass hiring for Summer LA positions. See current application and hiring dates
Students who want to apply for LA positions need to create an account at the Learning Assistant Alliance Website. Once you have an account, log in to see up-to-date information about which courses will be hiring LAs and to complete and submit an application during the application period. The homepage when you first log in is a good place to find current information about LA-related events and notifications. We recommend bookmarking this website because you will use it for LA applications, hiring, and during your participation in the LA Pedagogy Course.
FAQs for Faculty and Students During Hiring Process. This document, which can also be found on the Learning Assistant Alliance Homepage, contains updated information for this semester.
Advice from Current and Past LAs
"I found that I applied to LA for classes that I wanted a better understanding of."
"Apply for classes that you find interesting! You will get to know the material well by teaching it (and learning it more in-depth yourself), so apply for a class that has material you want to interact with further."
"Good LAs are approachable, compassionate, knowledgable, and most importantly have a willingness to grow."
"Qualities that a 'good' LA possesses include being adaptive, communicative, collaborative, and someone that is willing to be challenged."
"From my experience, the best quality of an LA is to be prepared and understanding your limits. It is okay not to know every question that a student asks, however, never make something up! Additionally, a great quality of an LA is to be a problem solver, and the ability to think on your feet."
"I would prepare for the interview by first knowing why exactly you want to be an LA. Additionally, I would brainstorm what value you can add to the LA program. Everyone is unique and will be able to add value in their own ways you just need to know what that value is."
"As long as you can answer why you are interested in becoming an LA, what motivated you to apply for the specific course, and what your experience was like in the class if you took it, nothing should come as a surprise and it should be an easy, stress-free process!"
"Heck no! If I only applied for positions within my major I would not be an LA as none of my major classes have LAs. I think it is actually better not to LA your major as it allows you to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to grow."
"No, apply for any class that you're interested in and did well in! Some of the best LAs I've interacted with have been LAs for classes outside of their disciplines because they provided a unique perspective and could explain topics clearly to students outside of that discipline."
What do we expect? What should you expect?
LAs should expect to spend 8 - 9 hours/week (on average) on all paid LA responsibilities, including weekly preparation meetings, individual content preparation, and LA-Student Interactions. This does not include time spent on the LA Pedagogy Course.
LAs are expected to treat all students with kindness and respect, and promote a safe, inclusive, learning environment.
LAs attend all sections and meeting times assigned to them.
LAs respond to all contact from Lead Faculty and Course Coordinators within 24 hours.
Weekly Preparation Meetings with Lead Faculty and Instructional Team
You and your fellow LAs (and perhaps TAs) will meet with a department faculty member (usually the Lead Faculty) to prepare for the upcoming week, reflect on the previous week, and sometimes analyze assessment data from previous terms.
These meetings should occur at least weekly for at least 30 minutes. This is an essential, paid, part of your LA position.
How to get the most out of these meetings
LA Pedagogy Course (New LAs only)
You will learn and practice evidence-based techniques for supporting and enhancing student learning, in a community designed to support you in your LA-student interactions.
Participation in, and successful completion of, the LA Pedagogy Course is a required co-requisite of the first semester LA experience.
The LA Pedagogy Course (EDUC 4610) is a 2-credit course. Previous new LAs report spending 3 - 5 hours/ week, including class time, on readings and assignments for this course.
New LAs will be assigned an LA Mentor who will be present for part of the Pedagogy Course weekly holding group mentoring. This is a time dedicated to addressing issues the LAs may be facing in practice and brainstorming solutions.
|LAs within the Pedagogy Course will meet in small disciplinary and cross-disciplinary groups, supported by an LA LA (LA for Pedagogy Course), to discuss and synthesize best-practices for teaching and learning.|
|LA Pedagogy Course Instructors provide individual and whole class feedback on ideas and help troubleshoot challenges.|
The LA Pedagogy Course Coordinator, Dr. McIntosh, is the liaison between new LAs, Lead Faculty, the LA Mentor Program, and LA Pedagogy Instructors. If you have any questions or concerns about your experience in the LA Pedagogy Course, please contact Dr. McIntosh at LAPedagogy@colorado.edu.
Returning LA Communities
These communities are an essential support for Returning LAs.
All Returning LAs are expected to participate in weekly small discussion groups to continue expanding their skills, and as a venue for strategy and support, to improve LA-Student Interactions.
Participate in LA Feedback/Growth and Program Evaluation Activities
Whether you are a New or Returning LA, your continued growth and development is important for you, your students, and the LA Program. LAs are partners in our educational excellence efforts on campus.
LAs are expected to survey their students twice during the semester: Week 2 in the “Getting to Know Your Students” survey, and Week 8 in the “LA-CQ Mid-Semester LA Feedback” survey.
LAs are expected to participate in a variety of observations, assessments, and questionnaires. Your responses are used to continually monitor and make improvements to the LA Program
Full List of LA Program Policies
Advice from Current and Past LAs
"The LA pedagogy course teaches skills for effective teaching, helps you set goals to improve, and provides a support system of other new LAs, a mentor, LALA, and instructor."
"A better questions is, how could you possibly LA without it! The course teaches you everything you need to know in terms of teaching techniques or 'pedagogy', in order to succeed as an LA. The class also provides you with an opportunity to problem solve with other LAs from various contexts."
"That it is okay not to know every question! You are human it is okay not to know everything a student asks you."
"Between the pedagogy class, weekly meetings with your lead faculty / class LAs, and LA mentor, there were plenty of people to support me and help me improve."
"Don't Panic! Students and faculty understand that you are a peer instructor that has taken the course but nobody expects you to be perfect or know all the answers and luckily for you, it isn't your job to be an answer fairy!"
"I plan my time as an LA by putting scheduled parts of my LA commitment (lecture, weekly meeting, LA sessions) on my calendar. I also set aside time each week to prep for the LA sessions I run. In addition, treat the pedagogy class like you would any other class - be diligent about attending and allow time outside of class for completing assignments."
"Having a routine was most effective for me. The time requirement for most LA positions is by no means overwhelming but having a routine in place can certainly help manage your time. I would also plan ahead for your LA position in heavy test weeks of the semester so that you have enough time to help your students and also stay on top of your own work."
"For me, it was getting students to work in groups. Students are usually pretty timid about working within groups, however, as the semester progresses it becomes much easier!"
"Just like with any job, you will always continue to learn and improve your practice. This can sometimes be challenging because it also means that you need to set continuous tangible goals to ensure that you aren't becoming stagnant and can measure your progress which was certainly a challenge for me at first but is an incredibly valuable life skill that I gained from my LA position."
"I didn't expect that working with my lead faculty would be a key part of my LA experience, but getting to know faculty and learn about their careers and research has strengthened my sense of community at CU Boulder. Another great aspect of LAing is how it taught me skills that have made me a better student, teacher, and public speaker."
"All the opportunities to grow within the LA program! Additionally, you learn so much more about the topic you LA compared to when you took the class as a student."
Spring 2020 Mentor Project by Lily Chung and Tyler Wylie
Who are LA Mentors?
LA Mentors are experienced LAs who are trained to support first-semester Learning Assistants through the challenges and successes of their interactions with students. LAs meet with their LA Mentor as part of the LA Pedagogy Course through weekly group mentoring, and individually through an in-class observation and one-on-one mentoring sessions.
What do LA Mentors do?
- Support new LAs by listening, providing feedback, and helping them increase their confidence and competence in their first semester of interacting with students.
- Observe and meet with LAs one-one-one, to set goals, reflect, and help them develop long lasting positive habits in their LA practice.
- Advocate for LAs and help them develop their own agency to improve undergraduate education.
- Co-construct effective peer mentoring practices with other LA Mentors in the two-credit EDUC 4620/4630 LA Mentor Courses.
- Collaborate on projects that impact the CU Boulder community.
How do LA Mentors Benefit from this Experience?
- Practice listening, time management, and organization skills.
- Participate in a supportive community of like-minded, motivated, individuals who are passionate about improving educational experiences of LAs, faculty, and students.
- Develop leadership skills by balancing and supporting the needs of LAs, LA Faculty, and LA Programs around the world, along with your own goals and mental health.
- Explore skills and experiences of personal importance to clarify your next steps after graduation.
What does it take to be an LA Mentor?
- You have at least 1 semester of LA experience.
- You are passionate about helping new LAs and improving undergraduate education experiences.
- You have excellent accountability and promptly reply to communication.
- You want to take on more of a leadership role in the LA program and at CU Boulder.
- You want to learn within a community that values you fully and appreciates your uniqueness, strengths, and struggles.
- You know that you have a lot to offer new LAs, but also a lot to learn, and you're willing to grow through your successes and failures.
Recruitment for LA Mentors typically occurs during the Spring Semester. Check #opportunities channel in Slack to learn more.
- LA for the same course/ department to gain more experience in the same discipline.
- LA for a new course/department to connect with new faculty and content.
- LA for the LA Pedagogy Course to help new LAs learn pedagogical techniques and concepts and to support new LAs.
- See How to Apply Page
- Support the LA Program with administrative tasks
- Learn office skills Interact with faculty
- See #opportunities in Slack for hiring notices or contact Julie Blair
- Explore other aspects of Leadership and continue to develop your leadership skills
- See this guide for how the LA Pedagogy Course (EDUC 4610) and LA Mentoring Courses (EDUC 4620 and EDUC 4630) can be applied toward this minor
- See Leadership Studies Minor at CU Boulder
- Check out the LEGO (Learn, Educate, Grow, Outreach) Education Club! Join a community interested in education and volunteering
- Work with students from underserved communities
- See SASC
- Advancement Via Individual Determination: AVID
- I Have a Dream Foundation: IHAD
- Tutoring in Area Schools: Many schools in the area are in need of tutors to help the students that are struggling. This can take many forms, and if you are interested you should contact the school. Also connect with LEGO Education Club.
- SASC Learning Mentors Program
- ASAP Tutoring for students who live in the dorm
- Arts and Sciences Tutoring
- NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance (up to a maximum of $8,000 per year) for full-time study during the 9-month academic year; a 10-week, full-time internship position ($650/week) during the summer at a NOAA facility; and, if reappointed, academic assistance (up to a maximum of $8,000) for full-time study during a second 9-month academic year.
- Americorp Scholarship Funding: Tutoring/ mentoring K-12 students. Community-based service addressing human needs and community work study position in a local service agency. Participate in service or service-learning activities. Note: Financial need is NOT a consideration for this scholarship
- Noyce Scholarship for LAs who have committed to becoming K-12 math and science teachers
- School of Education scholarships
- The office of Financial Aid provides scholarship information and resources, including general scholarships.