Promoting use of instructional teams as a flexible support for evidence-based STEM teaching

Lisa Elfring
Associate Vice Provost
University of Arizona - Office of Instruction and Assessment

The University of Arizona has developed a model for the use of specialized undergraduate learning assistants to promote high-level learning tasks and formative assessment in large STEM classes. Use of the specialized learning assistants provides instructors with time and assessment information to better meet students’ learning needs and has supported the adoption of evidence-based instructional practices. Project personnel have developed professional-development resources for the different student-assistant roles and the instructors; ongoing support is provided to facilitate team communication. This model has been adapted across disciplines, including beyond STEM disciplines. It has proven robust in supporting in-person, synchronous online, and asynchronous online instruction. Beyond the direct outcome of improving the learning experience for students, several faculty participants have collaborated with project personnel in using student data to identify areas for further growth and course design, and some have used their work in the project to build their skills in the scholarship of teaching and learning in their disciplines.