CS150 TA Duties: Spring 2000
Thanks for agreeing to be a TA for CS150! This course has a reputation
among the students as being alot of hard work, but very rewarding. It is
clearly one of the defining experiences for many of the students here at
As a TA, your primary responsibility is to the students. You will help
them with the lab work and with the material presented in class and the
book. You will probably spend most of your time helping them in the lab.
The theoretical topics are fairly easy to understand from the lectures
and readings, however, the practical skills used in the lab are more difficult
to learn and require one-on-one assistance. Our effectiveness will be based
on personal attention.
The key to successful teaching is preparation. It is very easy to underestimate
the time and effort involved in preparing to teach a new idea. If you have
ever lectured or tutored before you will understand that it is very easy
to fool yourself into thinking that you easily understand a topic until
you try to explain it to someone else. Therefore alot of your time will
be spent getting yourself up to speed on the course material and preparing
for lab sessions. Of course, the benefit of this for you is that you will
really get to know the material well!
This semester we have limited the enrollment to 180 students (and we
will not budge on this number). We have 6 TAs and one head TA. You will
have primary responsibility for 30 students, these will be the ones assigned
to your lab session. We would like for you to get to know these 30 students
very well. You will be responsible for tracking their progress through
the semester and giving them personal assistance when they need it. You
will be the point of first contact for these 30 students when they have
questions about course material or procedure. If you can't handle the question
then you should pass them onto the head TA (Eylon Caspi) or the instructor
The following paragraphs provide a detailed description of duties. Refer
to the on-line weekly schedule for information on the lab and discussion
Attend Lectures and Lab Lecture:
So that we are all on the same page with regard to what was said in lecture
and what topics are important and should be stressed, it is important that
you attend the regular lectures. These are held Tuesdays and Thursdays
Please also attend the lab lecture. This lecture is held each Friday
at 2pm. Most weeks it will be held by Wawrzynek. He will go over the procedure
for the following weeks lab exercise or project checkpoint.
Hold office hours:
You need to post times for and hold 2 office hours per week. One of these
2 hours should be held in the lab during a time when there is not a regularly
scheduled lab session. The other should be held in a private office space.
We will arrange some office space in Soda or Cory Hall. Anything goes during
office hours, but we suspect that this time will be spent answering questions
about homework assignments, lab exercises, or project checkpoints.
Do lab exercise the week before:
The week before each lab assignment goes out you must do the lab exercise
yourself. This preparation is critical to you being able to assist the
students the following week. It will refresh your skill with the equipment
and CAD tools and put you in a position to steer them away from obstacles.
We will reserve the lab for one or two sessions per week for TA use.
Assist in a lab session:
Earlier in the week, before you lead your own lab session, you will join
another lab session and assist the lead TA. This will give you a graceful
introduction to the problems students have with the lab and relive some
of the pressure on the lead TA.
Lead a lab session:
Meet with your 30 students in the lab. Hold a brief discussion at the beginning
of the 3 hours session. Get students started on the exercise. Move through
the lab offering help and looking for problems. Inspect completed lab exercises
and project check-points. Check-off and record results. Tidy up the lab.
Record student results in the database.
Prepare section discussion:
Look over lecture material, reading assignments, weekly homework assignment
and review lab exercise in preparation to teach a discussion session. You
should try to anticipate questions based on office hour questions and from
the experience of other TAs. Think about how to stimulate discussion.
Teach discussion section:
The primarily goal here is to make sure everyone understands the material
presented in class. The most effective way to stimulate discussion is to
reiterate the material presented in class through more examples.
We will be having weekly quizzes in class based on the homework assignments.
You will be responsible for grading some subset of the quizzes for your
students. This way, you can better track their understanding of the material.
If available course readers will grade the remainder of the papers. You
will be responsible for recording the grades and then returning the papers
during your lab section.
Attend staff meeting:
We will have a meeting with all the TAs every Friday from 11:30 to 1:00.
Lunch will be provided.
TA responsibilities Summary:
|Attend regular and lab lectures
|Hold office hours
|Do lab exercise week before
|Assist in a lab section
|Head a lab section
|Prepare section discussion
|Teach discussion section
|Attend staff meeting
What you must do now:
Take a look at the weekly schedule. Pick out first second and third choices
for 1) a lab section for you to lead, 2) an earlier lab section for you
to assist in, 3) a discussion section, and 4) 2 office hours (these need
not be continuous). Please send your preferences to me as soon as possible.
Also, remember to reserve Tuesday and Thursday 2:00-3:30 and Friday 2-3
for lectures and Friday 11:30-1:00 for the staff meeting.
The first staff meeting will be held the Monday before classes start,
1/17, at 11am in 631 Soda Hall. Please mark your calender.
Head TA responsibility summary:
The head TA will maintain the class web pages, work with the instructor
to devise weekly homework and quizzes, debug the lab exercises and do the
handout, lead the TA lab sections (this is the time each week when the
TAs actually do next weeks lab exercise, or project checkpoint), do spot
checks in the lab during non section times, and fill in for the instructor
for regular and lab lectures.
J. Wawrzynek 12/30/99 (firstname.lastname@example.org)