A Lesson from the Pandemic: Utilizing Digital Tools to Support Student Engagement during Instructional Assistant-Led Sessions

Christina N. Morra, Robert Fultz, Samiksha A. Raut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Student instructional assistants (IAs) are an integral part of most students’ college experience in higher education. When properly trained, IAs can improve students’ grades, engagement with course content, persistence, and retention. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the transition of nearly all instructional practices online. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, IAs, including Biology Learning Assistants (BLAs), began hosting their instructional sessions virtually, outside of class time. The goals of these sessions were to reinforce fundamental concepts using active learning strategies and to address student questions by building a supportive learning community. In this article, we summarize the training and guidance we provided to the BLAs regarding how best to adapt digital educational tools to engage students during their virtual sessions. We recommend that institutions of higher education recognize the expansion of digital educational tools as an opportunity to increase the technological literacy and competence of their IAs to best serve their student body in this increasingly digital age of education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biology Education
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • active learning
  • digital tools
  • learning assistants
  • Teaching Assistants
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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