UGA STEM PLAs
Peer Learning Assistants


With support from the University System of Georgia STEM Inititative, UGA OSE is in the second year of a pilot project to develop a high impact instructional program leveraging undergraduates supporting their peers in the classroom. Influenced by the Learning Assistant model pioneered at CU Boulder, the UGA STEM Peer Learning Assistant (PLA) program has quickly grown to over 75 PLAs supporting more than a dozen course sections. Track our progress and see where STEM PLAs are currently working!

While many simliar methods utilize undergraduates to enhance instruction (such as Supplemental Instruction (SI)), the PLA title is reserved for students who participate in all three elements of the program: CONTENT, PEDAGOGY, and PRACTICE

Content

All PLAs meet weekly with their supervising faculty. These meetings are meant to provide briefings regarding upcoming content that will be covered in class. During these meetings, PLAs are familiarized with the materials that will be used during active learning exercises.

Pedagogy

All PLAs are required to enroll in a 1-credit-hour, 3000-level course designed to provide training in the methods of effective teaching. These discussion-driven meetings focus on questioning strategies, communication skills, and classroom management. Two courses have been developed as a result of OSE's work on the USG STEM Initiative.

  • BIOL 3910 - This course serves PLAs from life sciences only
  • FCID 3100 - This course is open to PLAs from a variety of disciplines, including Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, and Physics

Practice

This is where the PLAs put their skills to use. PLAs regularly attend the meetings of the class they support. Having been provided content briefings and pedagogy training via the other two pillars of the program, PLAs represent an approachable and effective resource for undergraduates in STEM classrooms.

What is a PLA?

A UGA STEM Peer Learning Assistant (PLA) is an undergraduate who supports a course they previously completed with a high degree of success. Unlike other models such as Supplemental Instruction, PLAs provide learning support during regularly scheduled class meetings. PLAs apply the semester prior to serving in the classroom, and are required to participate in three elements of the program. The three pillars of the PLA experience are Content, Pedagogy, and Practice. Many faculty across campus utilize undergraduates in their courses in similar ways, but in order to be a PLA, all three elements must be included.

Content: PLAs meet weekly with their supervising faculty to discuss upcoming content and review materials in advance of class meetings.

Pedagogy: All STEM PLAs enroll in a 1-credit-hour, 3000-level course during their first semester as a PLA. Two courses have been developed as a result of OSE's efforts on the USG STEM Initiative.

Practice: All PLAs regularly attend class meetings and provide support to their peer undergraduates during various active learning events.


Track our progress and see where PLAs are working!


Want to be a PLA? Check back to this site for application links for spring 2018. Applications typically open around the midpoint of the semester,.