Learning assistants play an important role in supporting student learning. Here you will find information about how to include learning assistant in your teaching teams, how to train new learning assistants, and how to develop your course with the help of learning assistants.
What are learning assistants?
Learning assistants are pedagogically trained bachelor or master students, or PhD candidates, who facilitate student discussion, problem solving, and group work.
Learning assistants use research-based teaching methods and work in small-group or large-group settings. They act as catalysts for active learning by asking probing questions, helping students acquire and practice skills, and guiding students in overcoming conceptual difficulties.
Because learning assistants are students themselves, they have a better understanding of the types of difficulties other students will encounter. Studies have shown that learning assistants can improve conceptual learning and decrease dropout in courses. Learning assistants can also make a positive influence on the learning environment and support student to accomplish the learning outcomes in the course.
How to use learning assistants?
As part of a teaching team, learning assistants can help engage students in learning activities, and support students to develop skills in academic writing, argumentation and programming.
Course leaders recruit learning assistants with help from the study administration. A long-term plan for the teaching teams provides stability and reduces stress for both course leaders and learning assistants.
New learning assistants should participate in a training program to get a pedagogical basis for further development as part of the teaching teams.
The cost of the training program must be covered by the course budget or the Department. The MN Faculty has some funding opportunities ("studiekvalitetsmidler") for developing course material and working with learning assistants.
The Learning Assistant Alliance
The LA Program at the MN Faculty builds on work from the University Colorado Bolder. For more information visit the Learning Assistant Alliance.
Since 2018, postdoctoral researcher Tor Ole Odden at Center for Computing in Science Education (CCSE) has been in charge of adapting and expanding the LA program at the MN-faculty.