Learning Assistant Program
Our main goal in incorporating Learning Assistants (LAs) into the infrastructure of our chemistry courses is to create a better learning experience for our students. LAs are undergraduate peer mentors who are part of our instructional team. We train the LAs in pedagogy (which is the art and science of teaching), and in our specific course material. They are not experts in general chemistry, and may not always have all of the answers. However, they do know how to help students work together to find the answers, and will consult with TAs and instructors on difficult topics.
Why do we have LAs?
- They help promote deeper learning by asking students questions.
- They create a more engaging, collaborative learning environment.
- They create a student learning community.
- They provide learning strategies and problem-solving help.
- They provide advice on how to study, learn, and succeed.
- They help students understand the goals of the instructors.
- They provide the instructors with feedback on student attitudes, participation, and mastery of the material.
What will LAs do?
(The possibilities are endless, and each class will be different.)
- Assist groups of students in answering iClicker questions in lecture.
- Ask students questions about their thought processes.
- Ask students to explain their answers.
- Insist that students write out their work and include units.
- Ask students to draw pictures, structures and graphs if appropriate.
- Encourage students to work with each other.
- Help groups work through specially designed activities and worksheets.
- Hold problem-solving sessions and concept reviews.
- Design optional exam review sessions.
- Offer timed practice exams before each exam, followed by debriefing.
What is in it for the LAs?
- Help other students have a great learning experience.
- Gain professional skills.
- Be trained in science pedagogy and group facilitation.
- Gain professional development in leadership, teaching, and problem solving.
- Strengthen knowledge of science topics and skills.
- Prepare for entrance exams, graduate school, or careers.
- Get to know faculty, graduate students and other peer mentors, all of whom support their continued growth as science professionals.
- Earn course credit.
Chemistry courses that currently work with LAs:
PSU 016, Chem 108, Chem 110, Chem 110B, Chem 110H, Chem 110Web, Chem 112, Chem 113 FC Lab, Chem 130, Chem 202, Chem 203, Chem 210, Chem 212, Chem 227, and Chem 310.
Please contact Dr. Lori Stepan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching and Tutoring
Each semester, Chemistry majors are selected to be Teaching Assistants (TAs) and evening Tutors for the Chemistry Department. Students who have demonstrated mastery of General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry concepts that also have been Learning Assistants are given preference.
Summer Experience in the Eberly College of Science
SEECoS, Summer Experience in the Eberly College of Science, is a six-week summer research program in the Eberly College of Science in partnership with the Penn State Upward Bound Math and Science Program (UBMS) that was designed to provide a research experience to students who attend under served school districts in Pennsylvania.
Science-U (formerly Action Potential Science Experience) began in 1999 as an outreach initiative of Penn State’s Eberly College of Science. Science-U builds on the notion of intellectual freedom, encouraging students to let their imaginations soar with endless scientific possibilities. Through the camps, students are pushed to think critically and explore science freely while holding fast to Science-U’s guiding belief that students who learn what they love will invest deeply in their futures as scientists, inspired to pursue academic success!