Stephanie Dillon, Ph.D.

I started working with the LA program as a mechanism to better serve the students in my courses. I had been looking at how to restructure the courses to involve more active learning and determined that a “flipped classroom” style of course structure would be the most beneficial. In order for this style of course structure to work, you have to have good support for the students in place to help them while they are completing the in-classroom homework and activities. The LA program provided the means by which to provide that good support. After the success of the first semester, it became clear to me that the flipped orientation was the best way to help the students and the LAs are essential to the success of this format of course. My LAs are not only needed in the classroom but they also provide numerous office hours and help sessions to the students. They voluntarily offer exam reviews and extra practice sessions. They act as cheerleaders and counselors to the students that need help and encouragement. They are VITAL to the OVERALL success of the course. As I said from the start, the reorganization of the course structure was to better serve the students in my courses. It was additionally to combat some negative trends that had been observed over the past decade, namely lower test scores, high attrition rates and low retention of course material based on subsequent class feedback. I was very happy to see that with the new curricular format that the attrition in my course fell by almost 10% and the exam scores increased dramatically. Students were no longer passing based on “easy” homework and quiz and extra credit points but actually achieving A and B averages on their exams. This success would not be possible without the assistance of the LA program.