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Undergraduate Chemistry

Chemistry Learning Assistant Program

Become a Learning Assistant in the Lab or Classroom

Students working togetherOur main goal in incorporating Learning Assistants (LAs) into the infrastructure of our chemistry courses is to create a better learning experience for our students.  LAs are undergraduate peer mentors who are part of our instructional team. We train the LAs in pedagogy (which is the art and science of teaching), and in our specific course material.  They are not experts in general chemistry, and may not always have all of the answers.  However, they do know how to help students work together to find the answers, and will consult with TAs and instructors on difficult topics.


A student talking to a learning assistant in the lab

Apply to be a Learning Assistant

In order to serve as an LA in any class you must have previously taken that class and been successful.  If you have any questions about the role of an LA, or about the application process, please contact Dr. Lori Stepan at or drop by Whitmore 220D.


Why do we have LAs?

  • They help promote deeper learning by asking students questions.
  • They create a more engaging, collaborative learning environment.
  • They create a student learning community.
  • They provide learning strategies and problem-solving help.
  • They provide advice on how to study, learn, and succeed.
  • They help students understand the goals of the instructors.
  • They provide the instructors with feedback on student attitudes, participation, and mastery of the material.

What will LAs do? 

(The possibilities are endless, and each class will be different.)

  • Assist groups of students in answering iClicker questions in lecture.
  • Ask students questions about their thought processes.
  • Ask students to explain their answers.
  • Insist that students write out their work and include units.
  • Ask students to draw pictures, structures and graphs if appropriate.
  • Encourage students to work with each other.
  • Help groups work through specially designed activities and worksheets.
  • Hold problem-solving sessions and concept reviews.
  • Design optional exam review sessions.
  • Offer timed practice exams before each exam, followed by debriefing.

What is in it for the LAs?

  • Help other students have a great learning experience.
  • Gain professional skills.
  • Be trained in science pedagogy and group facilitation.
  • Gain professional development in leadership, teaching, and problem solving.
  • Strengthen knowledge of science topics and skills.
  • Prepare for entrance exams, graduate school, or careers.
  • Get to know faculty, graduate students and other peer mentors, all of whom support their continued growth as science professionals.
  • Earn course credit.

Chemistry courses that currently work with LAs:

PSU 016, Chem 108, Chem 110, Chem 110B, Chem 110H, Chem 110Web, Chem 112, Chem 113 FC Lab, Chem 130, Chem 202, Chem 203, Chem 210, Chem 212, Chem 213W, Chem 227, and Chem 310.


Please contact Dr. Lori Stepan at

Apply to be Part of the LA Program