Physics Help Room in PSB 158
The Physics Help Room is staffed by Learning Assistants trained in how to best help students learn Physics. It’s free and no appointment is needed (open Fall & Spring). Here’s the current schedule. Want to work as learning assistant? Keep reading.
Physics Learning Assistants
** We’re no longer taking applications for Fall 2019 positions. Check back in November for Spring 2020. **
Learning Assistants are undergraduates we hire to improve how students learn Physics by working in a class and staffing the Physics Help Room. If you earned an A or B in a Physics class and want to help others learn Physics, we’d love to have you join our team. Here’s a flyer about the program. We hire LAs for fall and spring semesters, but not summer. A typical LA appointment involves:
- for paid positions,
- acting as a resource for students during a Physics class (6 hours/week)
- planning with the instructor for the class (2 hours /week)
- staffing the Physics Help Room (2 hours/week)
- enrolling in a 1-credit seminar course on physics pedagogy
- earning $10/hr for 10 hours/week for one semester.
- for unpaid positions,
- working at least 1 hour/week in a class, recitation, or the Help Room
- enrolling in the Physics Pedagogy Seminar (if it’s your first time as an LA)
Our LA program is based on the model developed at the University of Colorado, Boulder as a way to help UCF students succeed in their major and recruit undergraduates into careers in K-12 teaching. The LA experience involves three main themes: content, pedagogy and practice. The LA model has been adopted at a growing number of institutions. Here are a few quotes from UCF students on their own experience as a Learning Assistant.
“A learning Assistant is there to offer students not only support and a helping hand, but also to challenge and inspire further academic pursuits in the STEM fields … someone who interacts directly with the students.”
“Being an LA never felt like a typical job to me because I was able to help others enjoy physics as much as I do … I was also able to learn a lot from the students, grad students, and professors in return!”
“The seminar helped me discover what it means for a student to truly understand and appreciate a physics course, and how I could help them achieve that level of understanding as an LA.”
“[After visiting a local high school] It’s refreshing to see people excited to do science. I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to teach before, but being in a classroom and engaging with those students … I found that to be the best part about the [LA experience].”
Courses on Physics Teaching
PHY3945 Physics Pedagogy Seminar (1 cr, every Fall & Spring) introduces research on teaching and learning physics, from practical skills like questioning technique to the role of metacognition on long-term retention of knowledge. Includes a one-hour service learning requirement. Open only to students working as Learning Assistants.
PHY4012 Teaching Introductory Physics (3 cr, every Spring, Physics 3 pre-req) focuses on how to teach Physics through active learning and scientific inquiry. Though this course is geared toward high school teaching, the instructional methods also apply to college and university. Students who have later gone to graduate school have found what they learned in this course useful for their applications and teaching assignments. Working with concepts through PHY3101 Physics 3, we investigate research on misconceptions, formative and summative assessment, and instructional materials specifically related to teaching and learning physics. Students are in “student-mode” and “teacher-mode” in different situations with discussions, problem sets, and 15 hours of service learning in a local school.
Course Reforms @ UCF
The Learning Assistant program allows instructors to transform the way they teach and how they structure their class. Another resource is our PhysTEC Teacher-in-Residence, Adam LaMee. He assists faculty with trying out and implementing course reforms from inquiry-based activities to using learning goals. That has included transforming our large-enrollment sections of our PHY 2053 Physics 1 w/algebra and trigonometry from auditorium lectures to active-learning flipped classes, integration of life science contexts, improved preparation for the MCAT, and use of free research-based curriculum resources to eliminate $150-$200 in costs per student.
Our course reform workgroup of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and expert K12 teachers collaborates to align UCF courses to standards, write learning goals, identify quality online free-access materials, and accommodate students form diverse backgrounds. While our students benefit from professional interaction with veteran teachers, our teachers get a chance to share their expertise and develop a better understanding of what awaits their students in college. Want to join the effort? Email Adam.LaMee@ucf.edu for more information.