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Learning Assistant

PSY 397 – Learning Assistant

(Any Concentration – Specialized Course)


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.

Course Description

Learning Assistants learn about the teaching of psychology.  Specifically, students gain a deeper understating of the particular course content area, gain insight into curriculum goals and methods of achieving them, and develop instructional skills in the areas of providing written feedback, creating and/or delivering learning activities, and constructing learning tools. Learning Assistants (LAs) are associated with a particular section of a course and work closely with the professor.  (Courses that typically have LAs include PSY 121, 203, 299, and Psychology Foundation courses.)

Program Learning Objectives Associated with this Course:

This course is designed to contribute to the following Program Learning Objectives:

  • Psychological Knowledge
  • Ethical Standards and Conduct in Psychology
  • Career Preparation
  • Effective Communication
  • Information Competence

Course Specific Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the learning objectives of the course for which they are assisting and the role of the course objectives in the Psychology major/minor learning goals.
  2. Understand the connection between the curriculum goals and the specific components of the course (lecture, assignments, resources, assessments, etc.).
  3. Learn the process of test construction by creating test items, with the faculty member’s guidance, for use in later semesters.
  4. Develop skill in providing feedback (oral or written) to students on their ideas or work.
  5. Prepare/present and/or facilitate a learning experience with students (review session, class exercise, etc.).
  6. Teach/assist students in using lab equipment and/or other tools (Internet, web-based searches, SPSS, etc.).
  7. Help prepare handouts and other teaching aids.
  8. Search for journal articles and other resources that will enrich class.
  9. Take full responsibility for holding office hours (supplemental to faculty office hours) and other “work” tasks (e.g., organizing class materials such as a psychological measure file, maintaining records of student attendance at required film showings).
  10. Prepare for professional responsibilities of a teaching/training nature.  Attend a minimum of two pedagogical workshops offered by the Psychology Department, other TCNJ agencies, or off-campus organizations.

Learning Activities/Pedagogy

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 intern 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 learning assistant.

Finally, each intern will be required to develop an enhancement for the course (this could be a training manual for new assistants, test items for the next semester, a homework assignment, an annotated bibliography, a section of a course website, an online simulation, etc.).  Additionally, learning assistant 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).

Faculty Responsibilities

Each time a learning assistant 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. See attached form (available on-line).

Student Assessment

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.


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.


Downloadable Forms:

Learning Assistant Application Attachment

When you are ready to apply for a learning assistant, submit the above attachment with the online application.