Supported SiteSupported Site California State University, San Marcos: Early Teaching Experience


  • Expanded the CSUSM LA program to Palomar; many students transfer from Palomar to CSUSM, and the LA program provides an opportunity for them to explore teaching.
  • Palomar is institutionalizing its LA program and in 2014-15 will be offering a Teaching and Learning Seminar for its LAs.
  • In the LA program, 44.4% of physics LAs report being more interested in high school teaching after participating.
  • Physics students participated in outreach activities with local high schools.


  • Managing the logistics of a large LA program is challenging, and the coordination of the LA program across two sites was difficult.


  • The CSUSM LA program continues to be supported by the CSU Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative.
  • The joint LA program with Palomar led to the development of local capacity at Palomar, and its LA program can now be more independent.

Lessons Learned

  • Connections between faculty at CSUSM and Palomar are essential for the LA program. The physics departments interact regularly (both faculty and students). This helps create a level of communication and trust that is required for implementing the LA program. Support and buy-in from Palomar administration was essential to institutionalizing the program.


  • LAs were placed in CSUSM introductory physics courses for physical science majors (physics 201, 202, 203) and life science majors (physics 205, 206), as well as advanced courses (physics 301, 351).
  • LAs were placed in Palomar conceptual physics course (physics 101 and 102) and, both intro physics sequences (physics 200 and 201; and physics 230 and 231).
  • The CSUSM STEP project employs math and science majors (including Applied Physics majors) as STEM Ambassadors who lead outreach events with local high school students. Returning LAs serve as Ambassadors as an early teaching experience in lieu of re-taking the LA Pedagogy course.
  • Applied physics majors interested in teaching visited a local high school classroom to meet with the teacher and observe class.