Students in a chemistry classroom.

Learning Assistant Program

In addition to a one hour a week seminar focusing on specific teaching strategies, students will work alongside the class Teaching Assistant (TA) in introductory Biology, Calculus, Chemistry or Physics courses, helping to facilitate group discussions. A great course for those hoping to teach at the high school or college level and those wanting undergraduate experience in teaching.

Learning Assistant Program

General Catalog: Taken as a 186 in Geology (GEL). Contact mast@ucdavis.edu for CRN.
Units: 1 plus one additional unit through collaborative department
Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor required.
Grading: letter grade
GE credit: none
When Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring

Lecturer: Mary-Betty Stevenson
Class size: 1 section of about 30 students
Lecture/Discussion: 1 hour weekly
Internship: Approximately 3 hours per week. Introductory Math/Science courses at UC Davis.


Become a Learning Assistant at UC Davis

The Learning Assistant (LA) Program was created by the CalTeach/MAST program with the following goals in mind:

  • enhance the learning experience of undergraduate students
  • build a sense of community among undergraduate students
  • create a supportive learning environment for those from underrepresented groups

Students will work alongside the class Teaching Assistant (TA) in Math (Calculus), Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Chemical Engineering.

The Learning Assistant (LA) Program facilitates collaboration between two entities — the UC Davis CalTeach/MAST program and the host STEM department/instructors. It is designed to provide a valuable and informative academic experience for both the undergraduates in sections that utilize LAs and for the LAs themselves

Important Reminders

  • Learning Assistants are undergraduates. They will not have primary responsibility for a small-group section, nor will they be responsible for grading assigned work, holding office hours, or any other designated TA duty.
  • "Graduate Student Employment Handbook for Teaching Assistants and Associates In_"
  • LAs are interning with the TA and instructor as part of their academic learning experience.  They must always work under the supervision of a TA and/or instructor.
  • The LA program is designed to be an active internship where the LAs have the opportunity to interact with students by facilitating small group instruction.
  • LAs may be given the opportunity to lead whole group discussions as long as the TA or instructor is present and actively available for guidance.

Contact information

UC Davis CalTeach/MAST program
Learning Assistant Coordinator
1362 Earth and Physical Sciences Building
mast@ucdavis.edu | 530-754-1056

Benefits of the Learning Assistant program

Benefits to Learning Assistants

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Experience for yourself how individuals learn and acquire knowledge in order to improve your own study skills.
  • Develop and improve your ability to communicate complex ideas and concepts.
  • Practice questioning and listening skills that can be translated to your future careers.
  • Learn to facilitate positive and productive group interactions.

Benefits to STEM Departments

  • Active learning environments have been shown to promote better learning outcomes.
  • Students will benefit from the extra help and encouragement that undergraduate LAs provide. LAs are closer to them in age and experience and can more directly relate to their struggles.
  • TAs will improve their mentoring skills through interaction with their assigned LA(s).
  • LAs will increase their confidence in their field of study by developing a deeper understanding of the subject matter as they intern under a TA and/or instructor, facilitating small group discussions and assisting students one-on-one.  They will develop communication and interpersonal skills necessary to be successful in their intended careers – a “learning outcome” for many majors, particularly in STEM fields

Responsibilities of the Learning Assistant program partners

CalTeach/MAST Responsibilities

  • CalTeach/MAST offers GEL 186:  Facilitating Learning in STEM Classrooms, a seminar class which provides students with the skills to be successful Learning Assistants. The one-unit seminar course covers current educational theory and pedagogy relevant to the LA experience, including issues of metacognition and research on facilitating learning in an academic environment.  Students learn questioning techniques that they will put into practice during their internship as LAs.
  • CalTeach/MAST provides LA recruitment support to departments, and any additional help that may be necessary to help their TAs and instructors effectively incorporate the LA interns into courses.

Department Responsibilities

  • Departments will ensure that LAs who so desire will receive academic credit, in keeping with university policy. Approximately 30 hours of internship = 1 unit of academic credit. For example:  a 1-hour planning meeting per week + 2 hours of “in-class time” would = 1 unit.  (https://icc.ucdavis.edu/find/internships/academic-credit).
  • Instructors agree to provide academic training for the LAs (generally one hour a week) in which LAs will have the opportunity to review pertinent course material.
  • If Learning Assistants are interning in laboratory settings, departments MUST ensure that they receive any and all safety training required by the university.

Learning Assistant Responsibilities

  • Attend and actively participate in
    • all LA training including GEL 186 and host departmental meetings
    • assigned discussion, lab, and/or lecture sections
  • Follow all academic and instructional guidelines as outlined by their departmental and CalTeach/MAST instructors .
  • Act professionally at all times regarding academic honesty, confidentiality, and peer interactions.

LA program FAQ

  • What Classes Can I be an LA for?
    The individual courses participating in the LA program vary each quarter, but so far, we have had the math 17 and 21 series, Physics 7 series, Life Science 2 series and the Chemistry 2 series using LAs in their courses.
  • Is the LA program only for STEM classes?
    Yes.
  • Can I be an LA for more than one class in a quarter?
    No.
  • Can I be an LA for more than one quarter?
    Yes. There are many returning LAs who chose to LA for the same course more than once or for different courses.
  • Am I allowed to be a new LA if I cannot make it to the pedagogy seminar?
    Unfortunately, no. The pedagogy seminar teaches LAs evidence-based practices that are essential to facilitating active learning in the classroom.