What is a physiology peer learning assistant (PPLA)?

PPLAs are students that have previously completed a VPHY undergraduate course successfully and then return to the course to support student learning, facilitate active learning activities, promote inclusive learning communities, and act as a peer mentor.

The PPLA community is focused on making science education more engaging, effective, and inclusive, equitable, and welcoming for all.

PPLAs do not:

  • Grade or evaluate any student work.
  • Lead class sessions without the supervision of an instructor.
  • Hold office hours.
  • Work with students outside of class.

What are the benefits of being a PPLA?

As a PPLA you will gain a deeper understanding of physiology by revisiting content and teaching others. You will also gain and improve transferable skills you can use in the future like communication and leadership skills and building confidence. You will also build relationships with department faculty that can help support you through your degree and beyond.

  • First-semester PPLAs will enroll in VPHY 4050, a three-credit upper-level course that consists of a weekly 75-minute seminar that supports your development as an effective PPLA and professional, as well as credit for work done as a PPLA. Completion of VPHY 4050 is a major elective for the Biomedical Physiology major and minor, and also earns experiential learning credit.
  • PPLAs that return for additional semesters will earn $11/hour for 5 hours of work each week. However, the number of available positions for returning PPLAs is dependent on funding and will vary by semester. Returning PPLAs do not need to reenroll in VPHY 4050 and cannot earn additional course credit.

What are the responsibilities of being a PPLA?

All PPLAs dedicate 5 hours a week to their role including:

  • Three hours per week – PPLAs attend all class meetings throughout the semester, which typically total three hours. PPLAs are active members of the instructional team, helping to facilitate activities and discussions, answering student questions, as well as helping students reflect on their learning and approaches to learning.
  • One-hour meeting with the instructor-partner and fellow PPLAs to prepare for upcoming activities and provide feedback on the activities of the prior week.
  • One hour preparing for class content and activities independently.

The above activities are mandatory for all PPLAs each week. If your schedule does not allow you to attend regular class meetings and weekly instructor-partner meetings you will not be able to be a PPLA this semester, however, we strongly encourage you to apply in a future semester.

First semester PLAs must also register for VPHY 4050. The course requirements for VPHY 4050 include all the above responsibilities as well as attending, actively participating in, and completing assignments for a weekly 75-minute seminar.

Learn more about becoming a PPLA here

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