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Table 2 ATLAs framework

From: Development and application of the Action Taxonomy for Learning Assistants (ATLAs)

Parent codePrimary code: descriptors and LA quotes
LA-Directed Facilitation
LAs help students complete the task/activity they are engaged in by providing students with information.
Answer student question: LA directly answers a student question without eliciting student thinking or checking understanding. There is no explanation or elaboration beyond answering the student’s question.
“No, oxygen would be an element.”; “You could call it that, but it’s just carbonic acid.”
Explain: LA provides student(s) an explanation relating to the activity or a student question. This can include explaining a concept, mechanism, or problem-solving process. This explanation can be brief and only within the scope of the activity or question, or it can be elongated with information beyond the scope of the question or activity. This can also include building on student ideas.
“So, you’ll see especially with proteins when you have amino acids. Amino acids are going to be linked to each other, and the interaction between amino acids dictates the shape of the protein that will result, and the shape of the protein is going to dictate its function.”
Provide prompt: LA states the next steps for student(s) working through a task or provides hints or tips to help student(s) along with the task. The LA then gives the student an opportunity to respond.
“You can think of this as the master equation. You want to get everything cancelled out until it gets to this, does that make sense?”
“I think that the major hint to your question has to do with this word... (points to a word on the sheet)”.
Examine student work: LA examines student’s written work (e.g. worksheet). This is mostly non-verbal and can be seen on the video but could also be explicitly stated by the LA. This is often followed by LA response referring to student’s written work.
Clarify question: LA rephrases the question/activity/instructor direction. The LA might add some context to clarify expectations of the student to facilitate completion of the task.
“I think it just comes down to syntax and how you interpret the question. I see what you are saying, but I would include it [reaction rate] under that umbrella.”; “You could also look at it at its most extreme point: Say you have no substrate whatsoever, is the reaction going to occur?”
LA-Guided Facilitation
LAs are helping students complete the task/activity they are engaged in by creating opportunities for the students to input their ideas.
Check in: LA checks student(s) progress as an initiation to the interaction, checks to see if student(s) are following during an interaction or checks that student(s) are satisfied as a termination of an interaction. This action is broader and more general than check understanding [see below].
“Did you get the first one?”; “Are you doing good?”; “Does that make sense?”
Elicit student thinking: LA asks the student(s) to narrate their thought process behind their understanding of a concept or process of reaching an answer. LA’s question is not necessarily question or task specific. This typically comes early in an interaction.
“So, what do you think?”; “Walk me through what you have done so far?”
Check understanding: LA asks a question requiring students to reason about or connect ideas related to the concept or process pertaining to the current activity.
“Can you show me where there might be a double bond here?”
Check knowledge: LA asks a factual recall question about content or information needed for the problem; a quick check for knowledge.
“What is a racemic mixture?”
Probe for reasoning: LA asks student to defend or justify their answer to a question or task.
“Why do you say that?”; “.....What were your clues?”
Collaboratively problem solve: LA is working through a problem with the student in a truly collaborative way (as a member of the group). Often, the LA does not have a key.
“Have you tried it this way? Let us do that then …”
LAs evaluate student responses, stating correctness or incorrectness, and/or acknowledge/affirm students’ ideas.
Confirm correctness: LA hears/examines student answer and indicates that it is correct.
“There you go, you got it”; “To me you are correct”
Point out incorrectness: LA hears/examines student(s) answer and indicates that it is incorrect. This usually follows with further interaction.
“It’s not necessarily going to be equal...”
“I would not say that it’s balanced because you have to think about polarity too.”
Validate student: LA values student’s effort or progress in a positive and encouraging way.
“I think you got this down really well.”; “Do not confuse yourself, you were right initially.”
Acknowledge student ideas: LA values student’s ideas or thoughts in a positive way.
“Yeah, yeah I like that thinking.”; “I see what you are saying.”
Affirm student: LA acknowledges the student’s struggle and feelings, and often refers to their own struggles to relate or empathize with student(s).
“I struggled too. I had not taken chemistry for like ten years before I took this course.”; “It’s tough, it is.”
LAs provide information they believe will help students be successful in the course or in school more generally.
Direct to resources: LA refers to available resources such as online course materials, office hours, textbooks, web-based resources etc. for the course that might be helpful for student(s).
“There is another packet that has all of the macromolecule, so I would have that down as well.”
“There is a module on Canvas that talks about this.”
Share perspectives and approaches: LA shares their experience and insights of ways to approach problem-solving or particular types of questions.
“… I’m going to be honest, I get so confused when I try to do it, all in a line, so I do it a slightly different way. I have to use the definition of molarity and go from there to figure out moles … it takes a little bit longer, but I find it easier …”
Provide tips for success: LA shares their experience and insights as advice on being successful in school.
“Do you guys read the chapter before you come to lecture? It’s a good habit and really helped me out a lot.”
“I would definitely look at the learning objectives because it’s easy to get lost in little tiny details in these textbooks.”
Course-Related Talk
LAs talk about things related to the course but not the current activity, e.g., homework due dates or online resources.
Clarify goal of the activity: LA provides reasoning or justification for the task. This includes explaining the purpose of the task at hand and why this task will be beneficial for the student.
“I think... he just wants to know that you understand what 5–3 prime means.”
Administration: LA retrieves or hands out student materials e.g. worksheets. LA handing out worksheets and commenting on the worksheet or the handout.
“Let me go get you the notes packet”
Refer to instructor: LA explicitly directs student to instructor or LA personally refers to the instructor about something happening in class.
“Let me ask (instructor name) to explain this to you. I will be right back.”
“Let me ask him if you need to know the specifics of what happens at each step because I do not want you to stress out too much about this.”
Check-in about test/quiz: LA explicitly asks student(s) about their progress preparing for an upcoming or past assessment for the course.
“How are you feeling about the test next week?”
Non-Course-Related Talk
LAs talk about things not related to the course. This can include conversation entirely unrelated to college, for example, social plans for the weekend, or part-time employment.
School-related talk: LA and student(s) engage in discussion not related to the course but related to other courses or aspects of school within the university.
“Yeah, I’m a junior, so I took this course about a year and a half ago”
“When you get to Cell Bio, it goes even more in-depth.”
Non-school-related talk: LA and student(s) engage in discussion not related to the course or school. This is more of an informal peer to peer interaction for example, discussing what they did at the weekend.
“Hey how are you doing? Still adjusting [to daylight savings]?”