Assessment of Impact in Student Learning in Physical Geology using Learning Assistants.

Tuesday 4:30pm-5:30pm Red Gym
Poster Session


Julia Nord, George Mason University
The University of Colorado at Boulder Learning Assistant (LA) program has been shown to be very successful in increasing grades and engaging students in large lecture classes, increasing retention in sciences and also increasing confidence and GPA's for the undergraduate LA's. This program has been mainly used for math, chemistry and physics. George Mason University began working with the LA program in 2012 and now has over 50 undergraduate LA's in seven disciplines. Physical geology is different from most courses with LA's as it does not work with math-based problems. In spring 2015 we used an LA in an alternative classroom setting with 58 students, but very few students self-reported that the LA helped with learning. In Fall 2015 we had the 4 LA's attend lecture, a few labs and conduct office/tutoring hours. 47 students out of 223 respondents reported that they worked with a LA, and stated that the LA helped. However, participation out-of-class was low with only 2-5 students going to office hours per week, except for lecture test review days. This semester, Spring 2016, we have 4 LA's working with 2 Graduate Teaching Assistants and 2 faculty. The LA's attend 7 of 17 labs. The faculty, GTA's and LA's are working together to use more active learning in these labs with meetings and support provided following the SIMPLE model. We hypothesize that students with an LA in lab will have higher grades in lecture, have more confidence in their knowledge, have greater enthusiasm for the subject and be more likely to go on to other geology classes.