Learning Assistants (LAs) enroll in PSY397 to learn about the teaching of psychology by working closely with a professor to support the delivery of a course section. Students gain a deeper understanding of the particular course content area, gain insight into curriculum goals and methods of achieving them, and develop instructional skills (providing written feedback, creating and/or delivering learning activities, and constructing learning tools). LAs are associated with a particular section of a course; courses that typically have LAs include PSY 121, 203, 299, and Psychology Foundation courses.
In this upper-level course, the student takes on a very different role of working side-by-side with the faculty sponsor to ensure the best delivery of course material to each member of the class. Much of the learning is hands-on, usually beginning with initial instruction by the faculty member and ongoing appraisal and feedback. For example, if one duty is to provide comments on initial drafts of student papers, the faculty member would review with the intern a scoring protocol/rubric or list of items to be checked (i.e., reference list, use of a pre-determined number of sources, adherence to a specific writing style, proper use of introductory and concluding paragraphs, grammar, spelling, and typing format). The learning assistant would make their comments in pencil which would be reviewed and modified by the faculty sponsor. The faculty sponsor would then provide feedback to the LA on their comments. The student in the class has the benefit of having two people read and provide insight on their paper.
The learning experience is maximized by providing the learning assistant with a list of specific duties prior to the class beginning as they may well vary by course. Additionally, there should be weekly meetings/communication between the faculty member and the LA.
Finally, each LA will be required to develop an enhancement for the course. Example enhancements include a training manual for new assistants, test items for the next semester, a homework assignment, an annotated bibliography, a section of a course website, or an online simulation. Additionally, LAs must submit a brief paper (3-5 pages) summarizing their experience and highlighting strengths and suggestions for improvement (in both the course and the LA experience).
Each time a LA opportunity is offered for a course, the faculty member must complete the Learning Assistant Contract and submit to the Independent Study Committee for approval. Signatures of both the LA and the instructor are required on this form to ensure that there is agreement on the duties and assessment for the LA. Your syllabus must reflect name(s) of LA’s, e-mail addresses and duties.
Student learning will be assessed following a variety of techniques including reliability, timeliness, delivery of feedback to students, creativity/content knowledge in preparation of course materials, assistance with equipment, and facilitation of class exercises. These must be specified in the Learning Assistant Contract cited above. The specific Psychology Learning Objectives will be measured by:
Psychological Knowledge – feedback to students, running class exercises, development of enhancement
Ethical Standards – Confidential treatment of all class and student information and adherence to professional ethical standards as set forth in the APA Ethical Standards document.
Career Preparation – Ability to work independently and reliably.
Effective Communication – Ability to work with students individually or in groups, as well as clarity of written feedback.
Information Competence – Use of, and training of students in, various lab, internet, and web-based tools.
Successful completion (a grade of B or higher) of course for which student will assist, and invitation by faculty sponsor.
One Experiential Learning Opportunity in Psychology can be counted as a Specialized course in the Psychology major or minor. One Experiential Learning Opportunity in Psychology can be counted as a Psychology Option in the Psychology major. PSY 397 can be taken up to two times, but may not be taken in association with the same course more than once.
Attach syllabus for the course in which the student will intern as well as the Learning Assistant Contract for this course. The following is an example of LA information that must be included in the syllabus:
Learning Assistants: Sample
There is a learning assistant for our class, [name], who can be contacted at [email address]. [Name] will serve as a resource to both the students and the faculty member. He/She will [list responsibilities here: e.g., hold his own office hours, assist in class/lab, conduct study sessions for tests, and correct objective assignments]. [Name] is not allowed to assign grades. The faculty member is solely responsible for all grades.
When you are ready to apply for a learning assistant, submit the above attachment with the online application.