UH VNR: Learning assistants at UH Manoa mentoring math success

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Daniel Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
UH Spokesman, UH Communications
Posted: Feb 24, 2019

LINK TO VIDEO AND SOUND:  https://bit.ly/2Sh8p1f

What: The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Learning Assistants program that uses undergraduate peer mentoring to assist students in large lecture classes where there is a high failure/repeat rate

Where:  The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

How:   Learning Assistants work in small groups to go over material covered during the lectures. The peer-to-peer interaction makes it easier for students to ask questions and dive deeper into real-world examples, bringing mathematical concepts to life.

Why:  The program started with Math 100 classes, which was identified as a mandatory course with a high failure/repeat rate that often delayed graduation.

Other facts:

  • State legislature is currently considering a funding the program

  • The Learning Assistants program serves roughly 2,500 students in more than 20 classes

  • Currently, there are 26 learning assistants in the math department and about 60 total in the College of Natural Sciences

  • By helping fellow undergrads, the Learning Assistants have the opportunity to review and refine not only their math skills, but teaching skills

  • The Learning Assistants are paid and attend a pedagogy (teaching) class once a week to learn how to teach and work closely with faculty and graduate assistants

  • The program gives faculty better insight into how their Math 100 students are progressing, helping them to adapt their lessons

  • The small group work allows the professor and the Learning Assistants to dive deeper into the Math 100 material as well as work with real life examples, which gives students the tools to navigate and communicate in a world increasingly reliant on quantitative data

  • With the success in Math 100, UH is expanding the Learning Assistants program to higher level math classes (calculus), other disciplines (physics, chemistry and computer science), and other UH campuses (UH Hilo)

LINK TO VIDEO AND SOUND:  https://bit.ly/2Sh8p1f

BROLL (minute, 15 seconds):

Various shots of students in large lecture hall and students in smaller classrooms


Jacqueline Millard - UH Mānoa math sophomore and Learning Assistant (11 seconds)
“Being able to encourage them and help challenge them to keep trying and just seeing the breakthrough and seeing them like ‘I CAN do this’ is an amazing feeling.”

Tyler Lum - UH Mānoa environmental studies senior (10 seconds)
“Math 100 is kind of like that last thing that I just needed to get out of the way. And it was really helpful to have these guys around walking around when we’re doing worksheets.”

Sarah Post - UH Mānoa associate professor and faculty advisor (5 seconds)
“The students that before wouldn’t pass, they’re now getting up to the C-level and the B-level, and the students that before would just get Bs and Cs are really excelling.”