Annotated Bibliography

Are you interested in exploring what the research says about the benefits of LA Programs? We compiled this brief annotated bibliography for our own reference and thought our colleagues might appreciate it, too. We hope you’ll find it useful!

This is not a comprehensive guide to the literature (for something more like that, check out Barrasso and Spilios’s scoping review); it’s more of a selection of sources on the variety of benefits of developing an LA program (if you’re an administrator), working with LAs (if you’re a faculty member), or funding the development of an LA program (if you’re a grantor or donor). Please also note that our micro-summaries lack detail, so for a more accurate and complete description of the article, please click the link and read the abstract.

If you have a source you’d like to recommend that we add, please email us.

Journal Article Benefits Micro-summary
Alzen et al. (2018) Students and Institution A quasi-experimental study that found DFW rates improved in introductory STEM courses after the implementation of the LA program.
Barrasso & Spilios (2021) Students
This scoping review of the literature collects and categorizes studies on LA program benefits and summarizes how the LA model improves student outcomes (both learning outcomes and course success); provides LA career preparation; enhances LA STEM identity; transforms faculty course design and teaching practices; and facilitates departmental and institutional change.
Close et al. (2016) LAs and Students A pre-experimental study found that working as an LA enhanced LAs’ understanding of physics as well as their physics identity, and that working with LAs shaped students’ ways of learning and interacting.
Hite et al. (2021) Faculty and LAs Through interviews and written responses, this study found that both faculty mentors and their LAs valued increasing care to and fostering relationships with students, and they prioritized this in their work to help students learn. It also found that ongoing development of both pedagogical and content knowledge was important for LAs’ success.
Margoniner et al. (2020) Students and LAs A quasi-experimental study found that students with LA support showed twice the learning gains compared to traditionally taught students. It also showed LA support improved students’ study skills. LAs reported very positive views of the program, and LAs who had not previously considered teaching as a career became more interested after participating in the program.
McHenry et al. (2010) Faculty A pre-experimental study found that working with an LA program helped faculty increase their satisfaction with their course designs, improve their course design strategies and teaching methods, and broadened their conceptions of teaching and learning.
Nadelson and Fannigan (2014) LAs A pre-experimental study found that working as an LA helped LAs develop professional skills and the associated identity, and it helped LAs clarify their career plans.
Sellami et al. (2017) Students


A quasi-experimental study found that LAs were associated with improved student performance beyond the use of active learning alone; students in LA-supported courses performed better on test questions that related to higher-order thinking skills. LA program implementation also contributed to closing the gap between URM and non-URM students on exam questions that tested higher-order cognitive skills.
Talbot et al. (2015) Students


Through surveys and test scores, this study found that students in LA-supported classes had increased satisfaction with both the course and the teaching of the course. Students in LA-supported classes also had better outcomes than those in classes without LAs, and in face-to-face courses, LAs supported students’ learning even more than TAs did.
Van Dusen and Nissen (2020) Students


A quasi-experimental study found that there was a strong association between LAs and lower DFW rates overall, and there was a larger decrease in DFW rates for Black, Indigenous, and students of color than their White peers.
Van Dusen et al. (2017) Students


A quasi-experimental study found that LA programs were associated with improved outcomes and reduced or eliminated gaps for non-dominant students, improving the equity of the learning opportunities provided to students.


Alzen, J. L., Langdon, L. S., & Otero, V. K. (2018). A logistic regression investigation of the relationship between the Learning Assistant model and failure rates in introductory STEM courses. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(1), 1.

Barrasso, A. P., & Spilios, K. E. (2021). A scoping review of literature assessing the impact of the learning assistant model. International Journal of STEM Education, 8(1)

Close, E. W., Conn, J., & Close, H. G. (2016). Becoming physics people: Development of integrated physics identity through the Learning Assistant experience. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1), 1–18.

Hite, R., Johnson, L., Velasco, R. C. L., Williams, G. B., & Griffith, K. (2021). Supporting undergraduate STEMM education: Perspectives from faculty mentors and learning assistants in Calculus II. Education Sciences, 11(3), 13.

Margoniner, V., Bürki, J., & Block, M. (2020). Learning-assistant-supported active-learning in a large classroom. American Journal of Physics, 88(11), 924.

McHenry, N., Martin, A., Castaldo, A., & Ziegenfuss, D. (2010). Learning assistants program: faculty development for conceptual change. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 22(3), 258-268.

Nadelson, L. S., & Fannigan, J. (2014). A path less traveled: Fostering STEM majors’ professional identity development through engagement as STEM learning assistants. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 14(5), 29-41.

Sellami, N., Shaked, S., Laski, F. A., Eagan, K. M., & Sanders, E. R. (2017). Implementation of a learning assistant program improves student performance on higher-order assessments. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 16(4), 1-10.

Talbot, R. M., Hartley, L. M., Marzetta, K., & Wee, B. S. (2015). Transforming undergraduate science education with learning assistants: Student satisfaction in large-enrollment courses. Journal of College Science Teaching, 44(5), 24-30.

Van Dusen, B., & Nissen, J. (2020). Associations between learning assistants, passing introductory physics, and equity: A quantitative critical race theory investigation. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 16(1)

Van Dusen, B., White, J. S., & Roualdes, E. (2017). The impact of learning assistants on inequities in physics student outcomes.