1 Pre-course Information

Who may enroll? Any person employed as a Teaching Assistant (TA) in CS.
If you TA but not in CS and your supervisor agrees, you may also enroll, but email the CS 2910 instructor (CCing your supervisor) before doing so.
How do I get hired as a TA? Each instructor may chose this themselves. This course does not help you gain a TA placement.
How does the course run? Online asynchronous. There are videos, writueps, retakable quizzes, a Discord server, and a final paper. We will also have optional synchronous meetings.
Can I start early? Yes, this is encouraged. Some modules may be updated during the semester, but not in ways that invalidate those that already exist.
Can I start late? Because TAs are often hired a few weeks into the semester, we expect this to occur for some TAs. There is no grade penalty for late starts.
How much time will it take? It is designed to take about 4 hours per week for 8 weeks, for a total of 32 hours. Your time investment may vary.

2 Enrollment

You must be a TA for a course in the CS department to pass this class (see Your Grade for why non-TAs will always get Fs). With rare exceptions, you must take it during your first semester TAing for CS.

If you have any difficulty, please contact the CS 2910 instructor at tychonievich@virginia.edu.

3 Synchronous Meetings

Each week we hold three optional synchronous meetings: Monday at 2pm, Tuesday at 4pm, and Thursday at 10am1. The zoom link for these is in collab. If none of these times work for you but you’d like to meet synchronously, please contact me on discord or email suggesting times that would work.

Each week, our meetings will run in the following priority:

  1. I’ll field questions about the learning material from the module highlighted for that week (see below).
  2. I’ll field other questions from your TAing experience.
  3. I’ll explain material and/or do activities with you.

Each meeting will last no more than 45 minutes. The module highlight schedule is as follows:

February 15, 16, and 18
Ethics of TAing
February 22, 23, and 25
Student Learning
March 1, 2, and 4
Diversity – student-mind phenomena
March 8, 9, and 11
Diversity – TA-mind and external phenomena
March 15, 16, and 18
Responding to Students
March 22, 23, and 25
Grading
March 29, 30, and April 1
Improving as a teacher
April 5, 6, and 8
Becoming a professional teacher
April 12, 13, and 15
What makes a course good?
April 19, 20, and 22
Equity vs Equality
April 26, 27, and 29
Planning a Lecture

I’ll also be on discord for office hours Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 3-4 and Friday 2:30–3:30, though I’m happy to make other arrangements if those times don’t work for you.

4 Topics

There are seven requred, graded modules, each with several topics. Each topic is accompanied by both a writeup and a video. The intent is that both video and writuep cover the same material so that you may choose either to learn the material. There is also an orientiation module to help you have a smooth start to TAing, as well as several optional, ungraded enrichment modules.

Topic Writeup Video Audio
Welcome this page player/webm (2:47) mp3 (from video)
Realistic expectations HTML player/webm (4:27) mp3 (from video)
Online TAing HTML player/webm (3:55) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
Schedule regular weekly times to participate in this class.

4.1 Ethics of TAing

Topic Writeup Video Audio
Being a TA HTML player/webm (6:16) mp3 (from video)
FERPA HTML player/webm (2:53) mp3 (from video)
Conflicts of Interest HTML player/webm (11:00) mp3 (from video)
Equity HTML player/webm (9:01) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
review the advice from previous TAs, including ranking at least 25 pieces of advice.
Quiz
Google Quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.2 Student Learning

Topic Writeup Video Audio
CLT Intro HTML player/webm (13:17)
drawing.pdf
mp3 (from video)
CLT and TAing HTML player/webm (16:07)
drawing.pdf
mp3 (from video)
Modality HTML player/webm (2:17) mp3 (from video)
Analogy HTML player/webm (3:48)
drawing.pdf
mp3 (from video)
Socratic HTML player/webm (1:56) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
  1. Once this week, verify you know what a student is asking twice before answering.
  2. Once this week, after interacting with a student, summarize to them the main points you discussed.
  3. Pick an upcoming topic you know students will struggle with. Come up with, or collect from other TAs, two ways to explain that topic, one visual and one not.
  4. Come up with an analogy for a topic in your course. Share it on this course’s Discord’s #analogies channel. See Collab for the Discord join link.
  5. Once this week, try helping a student by only asking questions. See how long you can go (but stop before the student gets frustrated).
Quiz
Google Quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

Note: we’ll use Cognitive Load Theory to help explain several of the coming weeks’ topics, so if it’s not clear please ask me about it on Discord.

4.3 Diversity – student-mind phenomena

Topic Writeup Video Audio
STT HTML player/webm (12:33) mp3 (from video)
STT Mitigation HTML player/webm (17:16) mp3 (from video)
Mindset HTML player/webm (13:07) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
  1. Once this week, teach using an example with people you never name or identify by pronoun
  2. Once this week, get to know a student’s name and a bit about them as an individual
  3. Once this week, give a growth-mindset compliment to a student
Quiz
Google Quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.4 Diversity – TA-mind and external phenomena

Topic Writeup Video Audio
IB HTML player/webm (12:03) mp3 (from video)
IB Mitigation HTML player/webm (7:45) mp3 (from video)
Microaggressions HTML player/webm (4:54) mp3 (from video)
Spatial HTML player/webm (9:45) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
  1. Take an implicit bias test, such as one from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
  2. Ask a friend from a different culture than you if you use any words or phrases they find annoying or offensive.
  3. Pick an upcoming topic in your class and figure out how to take the spatial analogy out of the students’ head. This may be tricky if you are not physically present, but can a picture do it? Can you open a bunch of windows and use them as props?
Quiz
Google quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.5 Responding to Students

Topic Writeup Video Audio
Overview HTML player/webm (6:50) mp3 (from video)
Answer-seekers HTML player/webm (11:34)
notes.pdf
mp3 (from video)
Miscellaneous HTML player/webm (4:48)
notes.txt
mp3 (from video)
Trouble HTML player/webm (5:59)
notes.txt
mp3 (from video)
Don’t Know HTML player/webm (5:12)
notes.txt
mp3 (from video)
Assignment
  1. Once this week, try helping a student by only asking questions. See how long you can go (but stop before the student gets frustrated). Did it work better than when you tried it in week 2?
  2. Once this week, get a student to act on something not directly part of their assignment: to draw, to write, to explain, to try something out, etc.
  3. Pick one of the situations discussed this week that comes up the most often in your class, and try out one of the suggestions from this week’s material that you don’t usually use. Did it work?
  4. If you could add one situation or one tip to this week, what would it be? Post the situation or tip in the #how-do-i-handle-this or the #tips-to-share channels on Discord.
Quiz
Google quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.6 Grading

Topic Writeup Video Audio
A B+ means… HTML player/webm (15:19) mp3 (from video)
Assessments HTML player/webm (8:55) mp3 (from video)
Practicalities HTML player/webm (12:09) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
None this week!
Quiz
Google quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.7 Improving as a teacher

Topic Writeup Video Audio
View, Review, Feedback HTML player/webm (9:31) mp3 (from video)
Course of a Lifetime HTML player/webm (8:15) mp3 (from video)
Assignment
  1. Observe someone else teaching. Write down your thoughts on
    1. What they did that you don’t?
    2. Why you think they chose to do that?
    3. Who was that choice helping the most?
    4. How could you apply that in your teaching?
  2. Record or reflect on your own teaching. Identify something you should do more or less of.
  3. Ask someone who has seen you teach for feedback on what you could improve. This might mean inviting them to see you teach first, perhaps even in a role-play situation where they pretend to be a student.
  4. Reflect on what you’ll take from TAing into whatever you do next. Write down a personal goal related to this.
Quiz
Google quiz – log in with your @virginia.edu account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

4.8 Extra topics

(pick any; likely only a subset will be available this semester)

  • Becoming a professional teacher: K-12 adults what professors do
  • What makes a course good?
  • Equity vs Equality
  • Planning a lecture: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
  • Cheating and evaluation design
  • Faculty teaching philosophies
  • Current trends in CS Ed research
  • Course (re)design workshop
  • Curriculum redesign workshop
  • Taxonomies and hierarchies of knowledge and understanding

5 Your Grade

Your assessments in this course run as follows:

  • 35% module quizzes; 5% for each of the 7 required modules

    These are delivered online and are retakeable. They are administered by Google, which is a bit harsh when it comes to multiple-select (you get points only for a perfect answer), but hopefully the repeatability will help with that. There is no limit to the number of times you may retake each quiz.

  • 15% final paper

    The end of term paper will be due the last day of classes and should address one of the following topics:

    1. Curriculum redesign. Propose a redrawing of lines between courses, including any changes to the required/elective category of each course for BACS, BSCS, BSCpE, and/or CS Minor; defend why that reorganization would improve the educational quality of our program. Include any risks you can think of: what might make the change fail?

    2. Course improvement. Propose specific changes to the content, assignments, and/or flow of the course you are TAing. Try to be clear on how this would change the workload of course staff and the expected benefits to the students. Include any risks you can think of: what might make the change fail?

    3. What I wish I had known about TAing… but nobody told me (or they did but I didn’t understand in advance). Reflect on your TAing experience and note what you had to learn the hard way, what you still haven’t learned, and what advice or training you wish you had received before you started.

    To upload your paper for grading

    1. Export your paper as a PDF document (PDF only, please)
    2. Visit Collab → File Drop
    3. To the right of your name you should see a drop-down button which may be labeled or Actions ⏷; click that and pick Upload Files

    Grading of this paper is looking for thought and attention, not correctness.

    There’s no particular length limit; I’ve given full credit to both ½-page and 15-page papers in the past. Say what you have to say, and then stop.

  • 50% your supervisor’s response to on a scale from A to F, how effective was this TA?

You can see a summary of your grade so far at https://kytos.cs.virginia.edu/cs2910/grade.php


  1. no one showed up to the first three weeks in this time, so I’ve canceled it↩︎