Preparing LAs

Though there are possible exceptions, in general group activities don’t work “out of the box” — they require some careful thought and preparation to ensure that they run as intended.

Meet weekly with course Learning Assistants.

It is important for faculty in a course supported by Learning Assistants to meet weekly with Learning Assistants (together with any Learning Assistants that are involved with the course) in order to reflect on the previous week, prepare for the upcoming week, and to listen and get feedback from Learning Assistants about how students are interacting with the course material. These meetings are also useful for creating a sense of community and to support Learning Assistants in the challenges of working with students in group environments. You may find it useful to look at the the instructor notes for the first joint Learning Assistants/Teaching Assistant meeting in chemistry (Acrobat (PDF) 123kB Jul27 10)

Discuss common student ideas. Look through students’ answers to prior semesters’ assessments in order to get a sense of how the students might approach the various content of the course.

Run through the activity.

With most activities, it is a very good idea to run through the activity with the Learning Assistants in its …

Gerald Feldman, “Collaborative group learning using SCALE-UP pedagogy.”

SPACS Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Februrary 21, 2013
will be held at  3:30pm, Research Hall 163

Gerald Feldman of George Washington University will discuss

“Collaborative group learning using the SCALE-UP pedagogy.”

Enjoy the colloquium in conjunction with coffee, tea, chocolate cookies, and fruits.

For more information about the colloquia line-up, go to


The time-honored conventional lecture (“teaching by telling”) has been shown to be an ineffective mode of instruction for science classes.  In these cases, where the enhancement of critical thinking skills and the development of problem-solving abilities are emphasized, collaborative group learning environments have proven to be far more effective.  In addition, students naturally improve their teamwork skills through the close interaction they have with their group members.  Early work on the Studio Physics model at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the mid-1990’s was extended to large classes via the SCALE-UP model pioneered at North Carolina State University a few years later.  In SCALE-UP, students sit at large round tables in three groups of three — in this configuration, they carry out a variety of pencil/paper exercises (ponderables) using small whiteboards and perform hands-on activities like demos and labs (tangibles) throughout the class period.  They also work on computer simulations using a …

Jason Kinser

Associate Professor

Office: 309 Occoquan Bldg PW
Phone: 703.993.3785
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