You are here: General Education Faculty Assistance Program

General Education Faculty Assistance Program

American University established the General Education Faculty Assistance Program (GEFAP) in 1990 to provide funds for General Education faculty to hire undergraduate peer assistants and enhance the course experience. The goal of the program is to ensure that faculty teaching General Education courses have the resources to help students learn both in and outside the classroom. As a result, GEFAP assistants become an integral part of the coeducation process with responsibilities specific to cultivating an inclusive classroom experience and promoting positive learning behaviors. Since its inception, the program has disbursed close to $1,000,000 in funding.

Although not required, GEFAP assistants are ordinarily students who have previously taken the General Education course with a successful grade. GEFAP assistants demonstrate a deep understanding of the course material and possess the maturity to assume a position of leadership among their peers.

GEFAP assistants are not the traditional Teaching Assistants; they do not take over the work of classroom teaching in order to further the scholarly interests of professors, but rather they serve to connect with students in and outside the classroom to enhance their understanding of the course material.

The GEFAP assistantship is ideally for students who want to:

  • Be leaders of change

  • Help peer students learn the course content using effective learning approaches

  • Build a lasting relationship with an instructor or academic department

  • Develop skills as a facilitator of learning

  • Improve their public speaking and interpersonal communications skills

  • Improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills

GEFAP assistants generate excitement and enthusiasm for a General Education course by:

  • Modeling effective learning practices

  • Leading review sessions on classroom materials

  • Conducting one-on-one consultations with students

  • Guiding workshops to improve student learning through writing

  • Facilitating small group discussions or online discussion boards

  • Leading other activities that enhance understanding of the subject material and fulfill General Education Program goals


Examples of activities that are not part of the role of a GEFAP assistant:

  • Grading

  • Assessing student work

  • Assisting with faculty research

  • Administrative assistance

  • Teaching the class

GEFAP assistants are able to enhance their college experience and future career trajectory through:

   • Opportunities to build a connection and rapport with faculty

   • Learning about the depth of work involved in teaching a college class

   • Integrating into the collegiate community and enhancing their sense of belonging

   • Acquiring an understanding of different learning processes and how they affect individual reasoning and comprehension

   • Considering a future in the teaching field

   • Gaining or strengthening skills in leadership, communication, and time management

   • Solidifying their knowledge of the course topic and increase confidence in the subject matter

Students in the classroom experience an enriching learning environment based on the support provided by GEFAP assistants. 

The students:

   • Often feel more comfortable approaching peers with questions rather than the professors

   • Harness the study materials through guided study sessions and recommendations

   • Utilize the GEFAP assistant as an additional resource for questions and concerns regarding the class

Gains to the faculty are tremendous as GEFAP assistants:

• Provide an objective lens to measure course progression, specifically topics that were easily grasped and topics that   presented challenges

• Have the potential to bring fresh and diverse perspectives into the classroom.

• Provide an opportunity for the faculty to mentor promising undergraduate students

• Are effective resources to help professors understand experiences and perspectives of undergraduate students

GEFAP awards continue to be an integral part of the success of the General Education Program. The awards are competitive, with priority for funding going to professors teaching large and/or multiple sections of courses, as well as to instructors who consistently demonstrate that their use of teaching assistants furthers the goals and mission of the General Education Program and directly benefits their students.

For Faculty

The General Education Program is pleased to announce the availability of GEFAP grants for Fall 2017. Electronic applications will be accepted through April 18, 2017.

Application for GEFAP signifies acknowledgment of the following guidelines:

  • GEFAP applications must articulate the relationship of the assistant's work and the General Education goals both program-wide and within the specific Foundational Area. Descriptions of those goals and their relationship to the course should already appear in the syllabus.

  • The General Education Program does not sanction the use of GEFAP assistants for grading purposes, including correcting papers or exams. Under no circumstance should GEFAP assistants grade or assess student work. Using GEFAP assistants as a writing coach is only considered appropriate if the GEFAP assistant has received training from their faculty supervisor.

  • All faculty who teach General Education courses, both full-time and part-time, are eligible to apply.

  • Factors influencing the award and the number of hours awarded include the quality of the application, the proposed activities of the assistant, the connection to and enhancement of General Education objectives, the course's likely enrollment (and enrollment history), and the amount of GEFAP budget available.

  • The maximum semester hours you may request is 120, with the strong encouragement that students regularly attend the class they are supporting. When submitting your application, be mindful that asking for a smaller amount benefits other faculty. We imagine that standard award sizes will range 60-90 hours.

  • Individual faculty members select GEFAP assistants and act as the primary supervisor for any assistants assigned to their courses.

  • Faculty members who have received awards in prior semesters must complete a full application with revised statements on the relationship and effectiveness of GEFAP to the course.

For Students Assistants

GEFAP assistants are typically selected by instructors as exemplary students from previous classes. 

When selecting students, faculty consider factors such as students' commitment to be leaders, ability to attend training and all necessary course meetings, and successful completion of the course or a similar course. 

  • GEFAP Assistants in Academic Year 2017-2018 will be compensated at the rate of $12.50/hour. They are paid by the General Education Program, but bi-weekly time sheets are signed by the instructors. 
  • Individuals may not exceed ten hours per week or 120 hours for the semester.
  • All Student Assistants must maintain full-time status (12-17.5 credit hours) for the semester employed.
  • GEFAP Assistants must attend training at the beginning of the semester.
  • The GEFAP is only available to undergraduate students. If additional funds are available after undergraduate GEFAP awards are allocated, graduate students may be considered.