The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) Model

otero_la.jpgBackground: Learning Assistants are undergraduate students who, through the guidance of weekly preparation sessions and a pedagogy course, facilitate discussions among groups of students in a variety of classroom settings that encourage active engagement.  

Effectiveness: Research has shown dramatic increases in student achievement in LA-supported courses (Pollock, 2009; Otero, 2015) and decreased failure rates in STEM gateway courses, particularly among students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in college and in STEM (Alzen, Langdon, Otero, in press; Van Dusen & Nissen, in press). Research has also demonstrated that the LA program develops students’ science identities and improves learning outcomes for faculty as they learn to use LAs (Close, Conn, Close, 2016; Close, in press).

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LAs on Campus: The graph shows the number of LAs hired at CU Boulder since the program began in 2001, by Astrophysicist Dick McCray. Each semester more LAs are used in departments already using LAs and new departments begin to use LAs.

Departmental Coordinators: Each department has a Departmental Coordinator (DC) who serves as a liaison between the LA program director and their respective departments. Each DC provides guidance and support to their departmental faculty and the group of DCs meets at least three times per year to review faculty course proposals, discuss strategies for engaging and educating faculty, and maintaining a thriving program on campus.  

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