This course is for teaching assistants in computer science courses. Each teaching assistant is required to take it their first semester TAing for a CS course. TAs in other departments may be admitted on a case-by-case basis. See Your Grade for why non-TAs cannot pass this course.

Many faculty hire their TAs during the first few weeks of class. Because of that, CS 2910 will not begin in earnest until the third week of the semester.

I will begin granting SIS permissions around the time classes start. You’ll need to accept those promptly or they will expire. If you have any difficulty, please contact me at

1 Two ways to participate

Each week we’ll cover one topic. You can pick either

  • Learn the material from the videos and/or writeup and then take an online quiz, or
  • Attend a scheduled session and participate in the discussion.

You are welcome to do both, but only one of the two is required. You may pick and choose between the two options each week.

Meeting times

Mondays, 17:15–18:00, MEC 339

Tuesdays, 14:15–15:00, Rice 011

Fridays, 13:00–13:45, MEC 213MEC 214

Each meeting in a given week will cover the same material. Attending more than one in a single week is not encouraged.

Office Hours

Fridays, 14:00–16:00, Rice 208

Other times by appointment


September 6–10

Orientation to this course

No in-person meetings this week.

September 13–17
Ethics of TAing
September 20–24
Student Learning
September 27–October 1
Diversity – student-mind phenomena
October 4–8
Diversity – TA-mind and external phenomena
October 11–15
(no sessions because of Fall reading days)
October 18–22
Responding to Students
October 25–29
November 1–5
Improving as a teacher
November 8–12
(no sessions because of instructor’s travel)
November 15–19
What makes a course good?
November 22–28
(no sessions because of Thanksgiving break)
November 29–December 3
Planning a Lecture
Current trends in CS Ed Research
Taxonomies nad hierarchies of knowledge and understanding

2 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.

2.1 Orientation to this course

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

This week’s content is not graded.

2.2 Ethics of TAing

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

2.3 Student Learning

Topic Writeup Video
CLT Intro HTML player/webm (13:17)
CLT and TAing HTML player/webm (16:07)
Modality HTML player/webm (2:17)
Analogy HTML player/webm (3:48)
Socratic HTML player/webm (1:56)
  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. Once this week, try helping a student by only asking questions. See how long you can go (but stop before the student gets frustrated).
Google Quiz – log in with your 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.

2.4 Diversity – student-mind phenomena

Topic Writeup Video
STT HTML player/webm (12:33)
STT Mitigation HTML player/webm (17:16)
Mindset HTML player/webm (13:07)
  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
Google Quiz – log in with your account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

2.5 Diversity – TA-mind and external phenomena

Topic Writeup Video
IB HTML player/webm (12:03)
IB Mitigation HTML player/webm (7:45)
Microaggressions HTML player/webm (4:54)
Spatial HTML player/webm (9:45)
  1. Take an implicit bias test, such as one from
  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?
Google quiz – log in with your account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

2.6 Responding to Students

Topic Writeup Video
Overview HTML player/webm (6:50)
Answer-seekers HTML player/webm (11:34)
Debugging HTML player/webm (9:03)
Miscellaneous HTML player/webm (4:48)
Trouble HTML player/webm (5:59)
Don’t Know HTML player/webm (5:12)
  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?
Google quiz – log in with your account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

2.7 Grading

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

2.8 Improving as a teacher

Topic Writeup Video
View, Review, Feedback HTML player/webm (9:31)
Course of a Lifetime HTML player/webm (8:15)
  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.
Google quiz – log in with your account. You can re-take it as often as you wish.

2.9 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

3 Your Grade

Your assessments in this course run as follows:

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

    You can pass a module either by (a) participating in a live session or (b) taking a quiz.

    Quizzes 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