What is a Learning Assistant (LA)?

Learning Assistants are undergraduate students who, through the guidance of weekly preparation sessions and a pedagogy course, facilitate discussions among groups of students in a variety of classroom settings (lectures, labs, recitations, and office hours) that encourage active engagement. Through this engagement LAs not only help their undergraduate peers, but also themselves through reinforcement of their own knowledge in the subject matter

An LA assisting students in Physics 203
Learning Assistant, Ilen Bernard, advancing student learning during General Physics lecture.
Who can become an LA?
Top students are recruited to apply and work in courses they have successfully completed. Being an LA is an elite status among science and math majors.
What does an LA do?

All LAs work directly with students to guide and assist them. They are mentors and facilitators, working alongside instructors during classes. As an LA, you will attend faculty training meetings and see firsthand everything that goes into undergraduate instruction (all without having to do any of the administrative work such as grading papers). LAs learn more about physics and the pedagogy that goes into building active learning environments. They also meet regularly with one another and the program coordinator to share and reflect on their experiences working with students.

What is required to be an LA?
In order to be considered for an LA position, you will need to have taken and excelled in the course in which you are assigned to work. You will also need to be recommended by the instructor of that course (we will handle that so you don’t need to ask for recommendations). All LAs are required to register for and attend Teaching and Learning in Physics (21:750:489) with Professor Rutberg. This is a seminar course which will introduce you to the basic pedagogical techniques required to work productively with students, discuss both seminal and novel work in the field of Physics Education Research (PER), and share your teaching experience with other LAs.

In addition, the requirements for an LA depend on your specific assignment. There are currently three kinds of LA assignments available.

Lab LAs: As a lab LA, you will work alongside instructors in the Introductory Physics Lab course (21:750:205/206). You will be required to attend the Physics 205/206 instructor training meetings Mondays from 11:30 - 12:50 and will be assigned to work in two lab sections. This amounts to approximately 5 hours of work per week.

LGM LAs: As a Large Group Meeting (LGM) LA, you will work alongside instructors in either General Physics (21:750:203/204) or University Physics (21:750:213/214). You will be required to attend the Physics 203/213 or 204/214 instructor training meetings Mondays from 10:00 - 11:20, will be assigned to work in two Large Group Meetings each week, and will be required to hold one 80 minute office hour session a week. This amounts to approximately 5 hours of work per week.

RLC LAs: As an RLC LA, you will work with the Rutgers Learning Center (RLC) to provide physics tutoring outside of class hours for students who want it. You will be required to attend the Physics 203/213 or 204/214 instructor training meetings Mondays from 10:00 - 11:20 and schedule at least three hours of tutoring with the RLC per week. This amounts to 80 minutes of training plus however much tutoring you schedule per week (minimum of 3 hours).

Why should I become an LA?
Being an LA provides several benefits, aside from being a paid position. It gives you an opportunity to deepen your physics knowledge, develop pedagogical and interpersonal skills, learn more about physics education, and work more closely with physics professors (always helpful when it comes to asking for letters of recommendations). Eventually, we may have opportunities for LAs to work alongside our PER team to conduct and present physics education research at national conferences.

How does one become an LA?
Students can be nominated by a Physics faculty member or they can also apply online. 
Fall 2020 application click here

I have more questions about the LA program at RU-N, who can I contact?

Questions can be sent to Dr. Joshua Rutberg.