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Peer Learning Assistant Credits (HDFS 497)

Students who excel in HDFS classes may be invited to become an undergraduate peer learning assistant. For instance, HDFS 129 and HDFS 411 regularly have undergraduate peer learning assistants. This is another opportunity to broaden your educational experience and get to know a faculty member better. Most peer learning assistant positions are for three credits a semester.

Undergraduate Peer Learning Assistant Guidelines

Review these guidelines if you are considering becoming a peer learning assistant for an HDFS course.

  1. Recommended minimum qualifications: You should have taken the course and received at least a B+. Faculty may recruit successful students in their current classes for future positions.

  2. Course credit: If offered a peer learning assistant position, register for credit under HDFS 497. As part of registering for HDFS 497, you will be required to file an agreement. The form for this can be picked up in the HDFS main office. This agreement must specify, among other things, how your grade will be determined. It is important that both the instructor and you understand what is expected of you in this course. Students should not receive academic credit for serving as a peer learning assistant for the same course more than once or and should not earn more than a total of nine credit hours for work.

  3. Professional training: The emphasis of your work as a peer learning assistant will be on developing professional competencies, not just providing a needed service for the professor or the department. You will:

    1. Receive training from the instructor on how to fulfill the role as a peer learning assistant in his/her class. You, as the student peer learning assistant, may be asked to attend classes, be knowledgeable about the material to be covered, and keep office hours. You should expect to meet regularly with the professor throughout the semester.

    2. Receive from the professor specific instructions on the professional behavior expected of you as a peer learning assistant. You should:

      • Keep the professor informed, in advance, of any deviations from the expectations made of you for class attendance, office hours, etc.

      • Keep student records, grades, and other information confidential.

      • Understand the professor's policies and procedures for dealing with student concerns, so that you, as the peer learning assistant, are confident you know what you can decide and what needs to be referred to the professor.

      • Know what you should do when students become angry or abusive.

  4. A word of caution: Recognize that there can be an inherent role-tension between you and students with whom you are friends outside of class or classmates in other courses. As a peer learning assistant, you are in an instructor's role and must work with the professor to minimize conflicts of interest: you should NOT grade assignments, quizzes, or tests of an acquaintance or friend in the class and you should NOT be solely responsible for proctoring tests or exams. Do not assume that you know how to manage these roles professionally; you will need to work with the professor on these issues throughout the course of the semester.