Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Improving Course Outcomes - Uses of Undergraduate Learning Assistants

Trained “undergraduate learning assistants” (ULAs) can provide invaluable support for faculty seeking to redesign or enhance their courses.  In 2006-2014, the USM redesigned 57 courses spread across eleven of its universities.  About two-thirds of those courses used prepared ULAs in a variety of ways to improve learning outcomes, including:
  • Making it more practical for faculty to use research-informed teaching and learning strategies, such as more active and collaborative learning in the classroom;
  • Monitoring computer labs where students used interactive courseware;
  • Coaching particular students who were having trouble in the course;
  • Helping grade quizzes and online participation;
  • Providing indirect ways of saving faculty time; and
  • Advising the instructors on how to improve the course.
ULA-enabled course redesigns appear to have been more successful in lowering DFW rates than were redesigned courses that did not take advantage of ULAs.  Redesigned courses using ULAs cut DFW rates by an average of 8 percentage points as compared to only 2 percentage points on average for courses that did not make use of ULAs.

For the full report, written while I was with Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation at the University System of Maryland, click here