red Supported Site California State University, San Marcos: Early Teaching Experience


  • Expanded the CSUSM LA program to Palomar; many students transfer from Palomar to CSUSM, and the LA program provides an opportunity for them to explore teaching.
  • Increased the number of CSUSM physics LAs from 9 in 2010-11 to 11 in 2011-12 to 28 in academic year 2012-13 (19 at CSUSM and 9 at Palomar)
  • In the LA program 44.4% of physics LAs report being more interested in high school teaching after participating.
  • Physics LAs participated in outreach activities with local high schools.


  • The coordination of the LA program across two sites can be difficult.


  • The CSUSM LA program continues to be supported by the CSU Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative.

Lessons Learned

  • Connections between faculty at CSUSM and Palomar are essential for the LA program. The physics departments interact regularly (both faculty and students). This helps create a level of communication and trust that is required for implementing the LA program.


  • LAs were placed in CSUSM introductory physics courses for physical science majors (physics 201, 202, 203) and life science majors (physics 205, 206).
  • LAs were placed in Palomar conceptual physics course (physics 101 and 102), both intro physics sequences (physics 200 and 201; and physics 230 and 231).
  • Physics LAs visited a local high school physics classroom and presented demonstrations (May 11, 2012). In 2012-13, this activity was developed into a more formal program, the STEM Ambassadors.
  • The CSUSM STEP project employs math and science majors (including Applied Physics majors) as STEM Ambassadors who lead outreach events with local high school students. Returning LAs serve as Ambassadors as an early teaching experience in lieu of re-taking the LA Pedagogy course.