Based off the international Learning Assistant model, the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Learning Assistant Program places high achieving undergraduate students in courses they have previously completed to support KSU’s student success efforts. These Learning Assistants, or LAs, assist students in developing strategies that will help strengthen their knowledge, develop transferable learning skills, and achieve academic success.
LA responsibilities may include working with small groups of students; reviewing clicker questions, practice questions, or other exercises; team teaching recitation or laboratory sections with a graduate teaching assistant or faculty mentor; or facilitating online discussions and other learning activities that take place during class meetings. Having successfully completed the course where they serve as an LA, LAs will be able to guide or coach students by sharing skills and knowledge, as well as by communicating confidence and encouragement. LAs also serve as an example - demonstrating how to successfully approach academic challenges.
Goals and Structure of the LA Program
Goals of the LA Model1
- Course Transformation: The LA Model supports the transformation of courses from passive learning environments into learning spaces characterized by active engagement. Transformed courses involve active learning and opportunities for groups of students to work toward a learning goal and for instructors to make instructional decisions based on student ideas.
- Research: The LA Model introduces and supports conversations between mathematics and science research faculty about education research and its role in creating effective learning spaces.
- Institutional Change: The LA model acts as a change agent in faculty, departments, and institutional practices by providing infrastructure to support and reward instructional innovation.
- Recruitment: The LA Model is an effective method of recruitment and preparation for future K-12 teachers. It can both provide exposure to and generate interest in undergraduates who have never thought about teaching as a career before and help those who are unsure decide if teaching is right for them. Meanwhile, the LA Program emphasizes "best practices" and provides diverse student support, which are helpful for students at any level.
Essential Elements of the LA Model1
- Practice: LAs lead learning teams during class - focusing mainly on eliciting student thinking and helping each group member participate in developing a shared understanding of the content.
- Prep: LAs and their lead instructor meet as a team at least once per week to prepare for future classes and exchange information about how students are interacting with the course.
- Pedagogy: LAs receive training on pedagogy and tutoring that introduces them to research and strategies that support conceptual development by (1) eliciting student ideas, (2) listening and questioning, (3) building relationships, and (4) integrating learning theories with practice.
12019 Learning Assistant Alliance
Interested in becoming an LA?
Fall 2023 LA Applications will open in March 2023!
Students interested in becoming an LA must meet the qualifications below and complete the Learning Assistant application.
- Must be enrolled at KSU in the semester in which the LA serves
- Good academic standing
- Good student conduct record
- Earned a grade of B or better in the course(s) in which the LA serves
- A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Patience and sensitivity toward students
- Ability to convey knowledge clearly via spoken and written word
- Ability to maintain confidentiality
- Good organizational skills
Resources for Faculty
Faculty interested in having Learning Assistants embedded in their course sections must complete the request form for LAs and are expected to meet the additional expectations listed below. If you are new to the LA program and want to discuss possibilities for LA use in your course, please contact the program at LAprogram@kennesaw.edu. Additionally, for more resources on how to create active learning environments within the classroom (including the use of LAs), please visit Learning Assistant Alliance and Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at KSU.
- Complete the Faculty LA Application that includes specific plans for how you will use the LA(s) to foster active learning during class meetings throughout the semester.
- Complete an hour-long LA Training for Faculty.
- Observe a CSM faculty member who is experienced with using LAs during class by the end your first semester having an LA.
- Lead weekly content preparation sessions with your LA(s) to prepare for future classes, develop deeper content understanding, explore specific pedagogical content knowledge, and exchange information about how students are progressing in the course.
- Complete the LA Program Reflection Survey at the end of the academic year about what worked well for their students, what you would do differently next time, and about the effectiveness of the Faculty-LA working relationship.