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Undergraduate Learning Assistants Foster Students’ Resilience During Transition to Online Learning in a Large Microbiology Classroom

Journal of College Science Teaching—Fall 2023 (Volume 52, Issue 7)

By Kathleen Hefferon and Esther Angert

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a series of emergency transitions to online learning for academic institutions around the world. Previous studies have shown that undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs) improve student engagement in classroom activities and learning outcomes. In this article, we describe the design and implementation of an LA program to support students in a large microbiology course during the transition to remote learning. We demonstrate that students were more likely to engage with LAs and participate in LA-led classroom activities. LAs promoted more help-seeking behavior from the students and, as a result, contributed to improvements in learning gains. Incorporating LAs into the classroom can thus foster students’ resilience in the face of the current and possible future pandemics. 

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