Initial Publication Date: September 3, 2010

Undergraduate Learning Assistants can be used to facilitate a wide variety of group activities. They are prepared to facilitate useful group discussion and to pay attention to student difficulties. Below are several examples of student-centered activities that have been used with Learning Assistants.

Using Learning Assistants to support peer instruction with Classroom Response Systems ("clickers") Learning Assistants have been used in lecture to assist with facilitation of peer instruction during use of personal response systems ("clickers"). They circulate the class (as does the instructor), making sure all students are engaged in discussion, promoting useful dialogue, answering student questions, and providing feedback to the instructor on student understanding.

Using Learning Assistants in recitation tutorials Learning Assistants can be used to supplement the instructor and/or Teaching Assistant during recitations. They may help facilitate productive group work on tutorial activities designed to help students develop conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills. In this example, we describe the use of Learning Assistants to support tutorials within recitation in two introductory science courses – physics and chemistry.

Various group activities using Learning Assistants Learning Assistants have been used to facilitate group work in a variety of ways in both introductory and upper-division courses, such as in-lecture tutorials and worksheets, group work in required recitations, and group work in optional co-seminars. This page describes some of these myriad group activities that have been made possible by the addition of Learning Assistants , improving the interactivity of college courses.

Using Learning Assistants in homework help sessions Learning Assistants can provide one-on-one instruction in homework help sessions, assisting students with specific questions on weekly homework. These tutoring sessions act as office hours for the Learning Assistant, supplementing instructor office hours and provide students additional support on homework sets than is usually available through a Teaching Assistant.

Using Learning Assistants to facilitate oral assessments Learning Assistants have been used to facilitate ungraded, voluntary oral assessments offered prior to exams. Oral assessments last one hour, and are offered prior to the three course exams. Orals are geared to improve student understanding and allow instructors to work with students on an individual basis to address misunderstandings. Students attend oral assessments in groups of 5-6 and work at a board to answer scripted, conceptual questions. The facilitator asks the initial scripted questions as well as follow-up probing questions, and encourages students to work together.