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Physics Learning Assistant Program

Applications for the winter 2020 offering of Physics 41E are now open.  Deadline Nov 1st 2019.  To apply, please fill in the form at:


Learning Assistants (LAs) provide an enhanced learning experience for students enrolled in active-learning introductory STEM courses, such as PHYSICS 41E (“Extended”). LAs are undergraduate students who facilitate collaborative group learning in class, mentor a small group of students, and provide individual feedback for their mentees. LAs perform a role similar to CS 106 Section Leaders, but also play a significant role supporting in-class learning.

At this time, the learning assistant program is limited to Physics 41E, with details of the opportunity listed below.

PHYSICS 41E: Mechanics, Concepts, Calculations, and Context

Requirements: Learning assistants interested in working with the Physics 41E teaching team must have taken PHYSICS 41E or 41 and have a strong conceptual understanding of physics. LAs should have a passion for teaching and education equity. Prior teaching, tutoring, or mentoring experience is not required.

PHYSICS 41E (“Extended”) is an 5-unit version of PHYSICS 41 (4 units) for students with little or no high school physics or calculus. Course topics and mathematical complexity are identical to PHYSICS 41, but the extra classroom time allows students to engage with concepts, develop problem solving skills, and become fluent in mathematical tools that include vector representations and operations, and calculus.

Learning Assistantship positions in PHYSICS 41E are 10 hours/week. LA responsibilities include:

  1. Meet once a week with the instructor, TAs and LAs to plan course material and practice problem sets.
  2. Assist in two 80-minute course classes/week (selected from 8 possible class times: M, Tu, W, Th 4.30-5.50pm and 6-7.20pm).
    • LAs engage students in active learning by facilitating group problem-solving. After a very brief introduction by the instructor or TA on the physics concepts covered that week, students work on problems in groups, while the LA asks the students questions, answers their questions, and helps them develop a deeper understanding of the material.
  3. Lead a one-hour group meeting with mentees. Each LA will mentor ten students. Two LAs lead each group meeting, with up to 20 mentees attending. Food will be provided and discussion topics will focus on the stickier parts of the week's material, with some time spent on student well-being and academic skill development, such as time management and test-taking skills.
  4. Meet with mentees individually to check in and to review graded work with the goal of enhancing learning from mistakes and misconceptions  (10 mentees for 20 minutes each individually = 200 minutes/week)
  5. Concurrent enrollment in the PHYSICS 198 Learning Assistant Training Seminar is required. In this one-unit seminar LAs learn and practice pedagogical techniques they will apply in an active learning classroom. LAs practice instruction strategies with other LAs in a collaborative small group setting, with regular reflection and feedback. In addition, LAs learn mentoring practices to help fellow undergraduates develop academic skills. The seminar meets 90 minutes weekly with supplemental readings and reflection outside of class. 

The LA quarterly stipend pays $1,700 ($17/hr for 100 hrs of work over a ten-week quarter).