Learning Assistants in Physics and Astronomy
Several sections of the general education astronomy and the calculus-based introductory physics course sequence use Learning Assistants (LAs). These are students who have taken the course (often at Cal Poly) and who are selected through a quarterly application process. The major role of the LAs is not to explain the material to their peers but to facilitate learning by asking targeted probing questions as student groups work on materials guided by research on the learning and teaching of physics or astronomy. This is a hard skill to develop, which requires concurrent and ongoing pedagogical preparation (SCM 230), in addition to weekly preparation on the subject matter to be covered in class. Our department is part of the International Learning Assistant Alliance (learn more here).