General FAQ's

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What is the deadline? There are no absolute deadlines, but we begin filling the positions in the last couple of weeks of the semester. We will advertise a review deadline, when we begin review of applications. So it is best to apply sooner rather than later. Last minute changes often to occur, as a result of schedule changes. We notify students as soon as they are selected so we may begin the scheduling process. Please watch your email and answer your cell phone. You may want to notify us if you'll be doing a long trip. And feel free to contact us if you have questions.

What are the requirements for a new Learning Assistant? You are required to participate in a teaching experience for roughly 10 hours per week plus enroll in the Seminar in Physics/Chemistry/Earth Science Education course during the semester. We expect the LAs to be professional. If selected to be an LA, you make a commitment to helping yourself and students learn. So you must be prepared and show up on time for your teaching assignments. You must also not hesitate to let us know if you can't make a session, since we can fill in quickly with enough notice. There are a few extra meeting, including training scheduled before the semester. These are arranged as needed each semester.

What are my responsibilities? The LA program is a professional experience that operates within science and mathematics courses and labs. If you agree to participate, you are expected to participate for the duration of the semester and may not back out partway into the semester.

How to get paid: Who is responsible? You are. Payment is arranged through the FIU payroll system. If you are new to the system, you must fill out a series of forms (the "sign on package") and provide legal documentation (photo ID, SSN card, etc). Payroll requires this information before you can be paid. You are responsible for getting the needed information to the project as soon as possible. The paperwork is simpler for those already in the system. Full details are provided when you are accepted into the program. And note that you must watch your email / answer your phone in the case that we need more information to complete the process.

What are the teaching experiences? The teaching experiences include introductory courses and labs, leading study groups, and high school experiences. In physics, this includes introductory physics labs and studio classes (the modeling sections). Most new physics LAs work in the introductory physics labs. LAs working in the labs must be available for lab preparation meetings held Mondays, for two hours in the 9:00 am - 2:00 pm range (most likely in the 9-11 slot, but may be adjusted). All LA assignments may include 1-2 hours per week in preparations to make sure the classes run smoothly. We do our best to accommodate both the LAs and course schedules, but conflicts do arise. Please keep us well informed of any schedule changes.

What is the Seminar in _____ Education? The LA seminar, aka PHY3012 / MAE3893/ CHM3945/ ESC3050, is a one credit course is offered at two times: Tuesdays from 4:00 pm to 5:50 pm and Wednesdays from 4:00 pm to 5:50 pm. Students are encouraged to enroll in the course that is most convenient for them. This course parallels the LA teaching experiences, providing the rationale behind the teaching methodologies employed in the classroom. It includes examinations of the research driving education and provokes interesting conversations on education. It is not meant to strain your preparation for your other classes, but meant as an eye opening experience. You are all but assured to have an enjoyable time learning something new. You must sign up for this course on your own.

Schedules: are they meant to drive everyone insane? The project requires complex scheduling since we have to accommodate the physics lab/class schedule, plus the LA's class schedules, plus several other constraints. It is imperative that you provide an accurate schedule and notify us immediately of any changes.

Also, be aware that we require enrollment in the LA Seminar class and attendance at the course preparation meetings (Monday's for physics). If you cannot commit to these due to conflicts, we'll invite you to participate in a future semester.

Spring scheduling is somewhat easier than Fall, as classes are well determined in December. We are aware that Fall classes aren't available for registration until summer, so we do our best planning then recheck with everyone over summer.

And the answer to the question is yes, the scheduling is meant to drive the management team insane. If you cannot find us, we may be recovering at the local asylum.

What happens after the first semester or two? The goal of the project is to get more students into teaching careers. You'll find that teaching is immensely rewarding and may decide to continue after a semester or two of LAing. If you decide against teaching, you may leave the program with no ill will. If you remain undecided, we'll try to provide you with additional opportunities to evaluate teaching.

Spaces are guaranteed for second semester LAs that sign up for the second course in the education program. After 2 semesters, we expect that LAs will sign up for the new education track in their discipline. Those that wish to pursue a teaching career should enroll in the new Education Tracks under their BA program. This will lead to full certification as a science or mathematics teacher as well as a science or mathematics degree that, combined, provide for multiple career path opportunities. We'll provide more details shortly, but feel free to contact us for more information.

Do you want at least $10,000? Students who pursue education degrees at FIU are eligible for National Science Foundation-funded Noyce Fellowships. These fellowships provide at least $10,000 per year, for up to two years, to preservice teachers in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences. The fellowships provide incentives to those who will teach. We will provide additional details once you are participating in the programs. But you may contact us at any time for more information.


To learn more, contact Hagit Kornreich-Leshem (FIU LA Program Director) at 305.348.7682 or email or Laird Kramer at

LAs and students interested in teaching science can contact Vishodana Thamotharan (FIUteach Associate Director) at 305.348.7684 or email