Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs) are undergraduate students who support student learning in challenging courses and help those students succeed by providing opportunities for more engagement, hands-on practice, deeper learning, and informal mentoring. PLAs have taken such courses before and have been very successful in achieving their learning goals and will act as models. Since they are closer in age and experience to the undergraduate students in the course they often provide alternative ways of explanations, help break down challenging tasks and provide guidance in how to learn in this course. Commonly this is achieved by small-group interactions of students in the course with the PLAs. If students feel supported in their learning, e.g. by discussing their understanding with PLAs, this will likely result in higher order thinking about course material, better course grades, and finally contribute to their retention in the program.
The College of Arts & Sciences has received President’s Performance Funds to support a Peer Learning Assistants Program.