CSU Sacramento Learning Assistant Program

April 2017: Our website has moved to http://www.csus.edu/nsm/learningassistants/ please go there for updated information.
Sacramento State’s Learning Assistant (LA) program is based on University of Colorado-Boulder’s internationally renowned program. Our goal is to turn STEM students on to the excitement of teaching, which will increase the desperately short supply of highly qualified K-12 science teachers. The learning assistant role is to facilitate discussion, helping to transform the instructor-centered environment typical of large-enrollment classes into a more interactive, collaborative, and engaging one. LAs receive training directly from the class instructor, and also participate in a weekly pedagogy course.

In Spring 2017 the program will likely include biology (BIO 1 and BIO 2), and physics (PHYS 11A, and PHYS 11C) courses. Students interested in working in high school classrooms are also welcome to apply and may earn upper division units.
Spring 2017 LA Supported Classes
Course Meeting place Meeting times Faculty
PHYS 11A MND1015 TRF, 12:00PM-12:50PM Ray, Michael
TRF, 9:00AM-9:50AM
Watters, Kyle
PHYS 11C MND1015/MND1003 MWF, 10:00AM-10:50AM Margoniner, Vera
PHYS 11C MND1015 MWF, 2:00PM-2:50PM Block, Matthew
PHYS 11A Lab SQU246 T, 11:00AM-1:50PM Buerki, Jerome
PHYS 11A Lab SQU246 W, 8:00AM-10:50AM Ray, Michael
PHYS 11A Lab SQU246 R, 1:00PM-3:50PM Jensen, Mikkel
PHYS 11C Lab SQU236 M, 2:00PM-4:50PM Buerki,Jerome
PHYS 11C Lab SQU236 M, 5:00PM-7:50PM Block, Matthew

The mandatory pedagogy course will meet on Fridays from 3pm to 4pm. Your instructor will also schedule a separate 1 hour meeting to discuss issues specific to the class you are working on.
You can check out this presentation to learn a little more about our program. If you have questions please contact one of the professors.

The LA program at Sacramento State

The LA program ran at Sacramento State for the first time in Fall 2011. Five LAs worked with about 80 students enrolled in an Introduction to Astrobiology (ASTR 4C) class. Students and LAs worked collaboratively on projects that were presented during our end of semester celebration.

The program was a smashing success and both LAs and students loved the experience! Here are the LA answers as to whether they would like to repeat the experience:

LA 1: Absolutely! I loved every minute of working with the students, helping them develop their strategy, and experiencing the final products.

LA 2: Yes I would like to work as an LA in the future. Not only was it a pleasure to work with Dr. Margoniner and the other learning assistants, but the experience was valuable and teaching what I have learned from previous semesters helped me to retain the material.

LA 3: I would love to work as an LA in the future. I had a lot of fun doing this project, and I would like to see what improvements we can make to it in the future.

LA 4: Yes, LA position was not just a job opportunity for me. I learnt so many things as LA. How to deal with different people, punctuality, and communication skills, and learn more about Science. I Love this position because I know that every day I am going to help students and at the same time I gain so much of knowledge from students too. My goal Is to become one of the best LA's of our group and make this program a success.

LA 5: I'd like to continue to be a LA in the future because enjoy the project based learning. Using the system gets students self-motivated to learn about physics, it makes things more enjoyable and even more fun to work with students who really want to learn.

The entire Fall 2011 experience is documented in detail (with pictures and links to the projects) here: http://webpages.csus.edu/~vemargon/LA/
In Spring 2012 we expanded the program to two classes: Physics in Our World (PHYS 10) and Introduction to Astronomy (ASTR 4B). Funds from the CSU Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI, http://www.calstate.edu/teachered/msti) were used to help support 8 LAs.
In Fall 2012, Spring 2013, and Fall 2013 the program was expanded to include biology students who wanted to explore a career in K-12 STEM teaching. LA programs ran in PHYS 11A and BIO 2 (Cells, Molecules, Genes).
In Spring 2014 the program expanded once again to include BIO 1 and GEOG 1. This expansion was partially due to a Promising Course Redesign grant from the Chancellor's Office. An e-portfolio documenting the experience is currently under development and we welcome your feedback on it.