The LA

Learning assistants are undergraduate students with strong academic standing who are interested in helping their peers (other undergraduate students) navigate a foundational BME class, improving their learning/teaching practices, and honing their leadership skills.

The LA is not a TA/STS
There are always two sides in any classroom setting, the teaching side and the learning side. While the instructor, TA, and STS are on the teaching side, the LA is with the students on the learning side. The teaching team’s role is to convey course content and material to the students. On the other hand, students, usually on their own, are responsible for receiving this material and learning it. Therefore, the LA will be on the students’ side, confirming they received the information as intended and helping them understand it, i.e., learn. Additionally, while the teaching team performs assessments and assigns grades, the LAs are neither involved in grading nor have access to student grades. More detail about what LAs can/can’t is provided in the Workload & Responsibilities section.

Selection criteria
LAs are recruited from the top 10% of students who have completed one or more of the foundational BME classes or labs 1-2 semesters before their LA assignment. Assignment to a specific BME LA-ready course is based on the applicant’s past academic achievement in the course and their Opportunity for Improvement Statement (OIS). If more than one LA is assigned to a course, then the selected students should reflect a diverse representation. LAs may serve for more than one semester on the same course or lab, but priority should be given to new coming LAs. Senior LAs can be assigned an LA-led role to help train junior LAs.

Workload & Responsibilities
The workload will vary from one course to another depending on the nature of the BME LA-supported course. However, LAs are expected to work up to 10hrs a week on LA duties that are divided between the pedagogy course and the assigned BME course.
in the Pedagogy course
LAs are expected to:

  • Register for the 1-credit pedagogy course BME4931 Educational Methods for BME LAs.
  • Attend and complete the assignments of BME4931.
  • Brainstorm ways to implement the techniques presented in BME4931 in the BME LA-supported class they are assigned to based on their experience with this class.
  • Complete the UF-FERPA training
  • Complete the UF-Kognito training

in BME LA-supported course
LAs are expected to:

  • Attend the BME LA-supported course to which they are assigned.
  • Meet with the BME LA-supported course teaching team once a week to
    • Pitch/discuss potential class activities/assignments/ideas they acquired from the pedagogy course
    • provide feedback about class dynamics like struggling students/groups, common misunderstandings to the instructor.
  • Perform the in-class activities and engagement strategies they discussed with the course instructor during the weekly meeting.
  • Help the students navigate the course material by implementing the different learning techniques they acquire from the pedagogy course.
  • Report the results of the in-class activities and other student-specific observations to the teaching team.

LAs may, but are not expected to:

  • Offer review, recitation, or office hours with the students after receiving permission from the course instructor.
  • Develop educational material like study guides, review sessions, summaries to help the students better navigate the course material. Any educational/instructional material developed by the LAs must be reviewed and approved by the course instructor before dissemination to the students.
  • Provide feedback on the delivery of the course material to the instructor.
  • Provide feedback on problem statements and assignment design to the instructor.

LAs are not expected to/not allowed to:

  • Share the answers for any assignment (quiz, HW, test,..etc.) with the students.
  • Share instructional/educational material with the students without consulting the instructor.
  • Have access to Test/Exam material.
  • Grade any student assignments.
  • Have access to the grade book.
  • Discuss grading issues with the students.

Expectations from Instructors:
Pedagogy course instructor:

  • Receive weekly or biweekly reading/reflection assignments.
  • Discuss the weekly assignment and brainstorm/plan possible activities.
  • Receive guidance on reported classroom issues.
  • Receive guidance on how to handle challenging situations with struggling or anxious students.

BME LA-supported course instructor:

  • Meet weekly to plan the LA’s role in the classroom.
  • Review of any material the LA has developed to help the students (study guides, review session material, material summary, … etc.).
  • Receive guidance on reported classroom issues.
  • Receive guidance on how to handle challenging situations with struggling or anxious students.

At any time, if you are unsure of an assigned task or responsibility, please contact Dr. Mansy (mmansy@bme.ufl.edu) for clarification immediately.