Supported SiteSupported Site Texas State University: Learning Assistants

Texas State University Image

Texas State University

Introduction
Project Goals
2016 Outcomes
Champions
Assessment
Learning Assistants
Program Data

We have a Learning Assistant (LA) program serving all sections of introductory calculus-based physics, with approximately 30 LAs participating in the program each semester. New LAs take the course “PHYS 3210: Physics Cognition and Pedagogy,” which uses some of the CU-Boulder pedagogy course materials and other materials from various sources. LA use varies somewhat by instructor, but all calculus-based introductory courses use LAs.

Our FCI normalized gains rose for about 6 semesters from 9% until they leveled off at about 40%. We have collected a large body of qualitative evidence of the benefits of the LA program for the LAs themselves in terms of their identity development as physics students. Our major finding is that LAs participation in and reflection on teaching as an essential component of being a physicist helps them reflect on and improve their own views and practices about learning physics and their relationship with the rest of the local physics community. Supporting documentation can be found at http://journals.aps.org/prper/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.12.010109

In our model, in which, all calculus-based introductory physics use LAs, departmental commitment to the model is required. The program cost is about $30K per semester. A core group of committed faculty train the LAs every week for about 2 hours. Doing this in a large group builds student community.