Before becoming an LA, I was a shy, self-conscious college student who always doubted my abilities and compared myself to just about anybody. The LA program pushed my boundaries as I learned how to communicate with others, collaborate, think outside the box, and be confident about myself and my capacities. I found my closest group of friends at UCLA through this program, and every LA event/activity eventually became the best part of my days on campus. I absolutely fell in love with the LA program and its wonderful and inclusive atmosphere. I also convinced myself that speaking to professors is not scary!
The Learning Assistant Program has, without question, been the best experience of my college career. The program offers so much to everyone at UCLA, from freshman to upperclassmen to professors, and everyone has so much to gain from it. The leadership and communication skills I’ve developed, as well as the camaraderie, has truly made it a worthwhile experience. I wish I could stay on until I graduate, but I also know that my leave will allow other students to come into the program, and hopefully come appreciate it as much as I do.
The Learning Assistant program was one of the best experiences I had at UCLA, and the evidence-based learning techniques I learned through it are actually helping me a lot in law school as well.
About the LA Program
The Learning Assistants (LA) Program in the Sciences at UCLA is an evidence-based, multidisciplinary instructional strategy, in which students who have succeeded in a given course receive credit to learn how to help the next group of students succeed in that course. It is specifically geared toward large introductory science, engineering and math courses. All new LAs attend a pedagogy course to learn about best practices in fostering student-centered and collaborative learning, and they simultaneously practice, reflect on, and improve these skills in the content course, under the guidance of their faculty mentor. Undergraduate students who serve as LAs thus help facilitate active learning and collaborative instruction in class and outside of lecture during office hours and discussion/lab sections.
The program aims to strengthen a few key aspects of UCLA courses:
- Increase the success and skills of the LAs themselves, as they refine content knowledge, while gaining new communication skills and a sense of community.
- Enhance the ability of faculty to effectively scale active learning, collaborative learning, and other interactive activities to more effectively teach a large and diverse student body.
- Increase the level of student satisfaction and belonging in these courses, and for the LAs themselves.
- Foster more application and interdisciplinary connections being made by instructors and TAs, since LAs are often more aware of student interests than the faculty and TAs teaching the courses.
For a detailed explanation of LA and instructor responsibilities, please refer to the buttons on the top of the page.
Below is an April 2018 slide show about UCLA’s LA program.
The LA program is supported by the Deans of UCLA’s Physical and Life Sciences, UCLA’s Office of Instructional Development and UCOP.
LA program development team (undergraduates): Dominic Diaz, Timothy Hamilton, Mariam Ghattas, Max Zhu, Irena Roy, Byron Corado, Raphael San Jose, Aashi Patel, Joshua Lee, and Sarah Castillo.
Director of the LA program: Shanna Shaked
Senior Associate Director of CEILS
Lecturer, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Office Location: Young Hall 3077D
Other past and present program coordinators:
Gaston Pfleugl, Life Sciences Core
Heather Tienson-Tseng, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Nadia Sellami, Undergraduate Research Center – Sciences (LA program co-founder)
Josh Samani, Physics & Astronomy
Past PDT members: Johnny Dang, Kylie Rostad, Elisa Fazzari
Website developed in collaboration with LAs Yiwei Sun, Emily Duong, Sara D’souza, and Johnny Dang.
The LA Program in the Sciences was established in Winter 2016 by Drs. Nadia Sellami (Life Sciences) and Shanna Shaked (Physical Sciences).