Peer Learning Assistants: How Undergraduates Can Support Active Learning in the Classroom


CTL North Instructional Plaza Conference Room (

Presenter: Meg Mittelstadt, Kris Miller

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Event Type: New Faculty Workshops, Pedagogy & Practice Workshops

Have you ever wondered how you might replicate the benefits of small group dynamics in a larger class?


Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs) are undergraduates who, with the guidance of course faculty, support the teaching in a course they previously completed with a high degree of success. PLAs attend class meetings and facilitate discussion and active learning events to promote student engagement, critical reasoning, and learning. Data has shown that, compared to other active learning courses, courses with PLAs have significantly improved student performance both within and beyond the course employing PLAs (Pollock 2009, Langdon and Cech 2013). When used well, PLAs have the ability to promote student use of reasoning through their interactions with students in class (Knight et. al. 2015).

In this workshop, participants can expect to learn the tenets of the PLA model and effective practices for engaging PLAs in their courses. A panel of faculty and experienced PLAs will describe common pitfalls, tips, and strategies for implementing PLAs in different classroom settings at UGA. Time will be built in for participants to develop their own plan for PLA use.