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Teaching Assistant Training. CSC Graduate Student Association Computer Science Department North Carolina State University http://students.engr.ncsu.edu/cscgsa/. Welcome. Topics. TA Rules and Responsibilities Break Teaching Resources Distance Education Lunch TA Experiences.

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teaching assistant training

Teaching Assistant Training

CSC Graduate Student Association

Computer Science Department

North Carolina State University


  • TA Rules and Responsibilities
  • Break
  • Teaching Resources
  • Distance Education
  • Lunch
  • TA Experiences


teaching assistant definition
Teaching Assistant Definition

Graduate Student Teaching Assistant

  • A student appointed in within a department to help run courses taught by the faculty
  • Possible duties include:
    • Directing student lab sessions,
    • Developing student assignments
    • Grading student exams and assignments,
    • Conducting occasional lectures, and
    • Providing general support to the course's professor


  • Admitted to graduate school in full standing
  • Enrolled in both the fall and spring semesters
  • Good academic standing (>= 3.00 GPA)
  • Sufficient progress towards your degree as defined by the Computer Science Department


  • 20 hours per week for a half time TA for assigned teaching responsibilities
  • Attend University-wide orientation
  • International students are screened for oral English proficiency


typical ta tasks in csc dept
Typical TA Tasks in CSC Dept.
  • Attend lecture with the students to stay abreast of the topics covered in class.
  • Hold office hours where students can stop by to ask questions about the class.
  • Grade homeworks, labs, tests, quizzes, etc.
  • Hold lab sessions that are associated with the lectures.
  • Cover classes for professors when traveling.
  • Take and maintain attendance records.
  • Run academic integrity checkers (like MOSS) on student submissions and report violations to the professor.


ta guidelines
TA Guidelines
  • Don’t wear provocative or offensive clothes
  • Good hygiene is a must
  • Be approachable. When holding office hours don’t listen to head phones or play games.
  • Be courteous to students.
  • Don’t have offensive material as a desktop background.
  • Be professional in all communications.
  • Save your emails and grade justifications until the end of the semester (at least).


academic integrity1
Academic Integrity
  • Acknowledge others works in your own work
  • Only turn in work that is your own

[From NCSU’s Code of Student Conduct]


academic dishonesty
Academic Dishonesty
  • Saying another’s work is your own
  • Give or receive non-sanctioned help in individual assignments
  • Providing false data

[Again, From NCSU’s Code of Student Conduct]


ways to protect yourself from academic dishonesty
Ways to Protect Yourself from Academic Dishonesty
  • Don't provide code to students unless requested by the professor. This includes:
    • emailing code,
    • posting code to the message board,
    • telling students the code they should type for their assignment, and
    • typing code for the students.
  • In lower level programming classes, if you are touching the key board, you are providing too much help.


ways to protect yourself from academic dishonesty1
Ways to Protect Yourself from Academic Dishonesty
  • Don't give students the answers to assignments.
    • Try to guidethem by teaching how to work through the problem. Provide strategies, techniques, or resources to solve a problem.
  • Don't barter with a student over their grade.
    • Do not accepts gifts of any kind.
  • Be fair and consistent in grading.
    • Talk with your professor about how to handle grade changes (this should be outlined in the class syllabus).
    • Require students to make grade change requests within 2-4 weeks of the grades being turned back, so the reasoning behind the grade is still fresh in your mind.


sexual harassment1
Sexual Harassment
  • A sexual overture is deemed harassment when this advancer uses acceptance or rejection of the advance to determine grades, employment, advancement, etc.
  • This policy applies to persons of the same or opposite sex.


protect yourself
Protect Yourself
  • To protect yourself from sexual harassment charges:
    • Do not date your students. If you're interested in dating a student, wait until final grades have been posted.
    • Do not date your professor or superior.
    • If you feel uncomfortable TAing a class because a current or prior relationship, discuss these issues with your professor or the Director of the Graduate Office.
    • Do not accept gifts or advances from your students or superior.
    • Avoid wearing provocative clothing.


peer pressure1
Peer Pressure
  • You may have...
    • friends in classes you TA.
    • friends who TA classes you take.
  • Temptations exist for “cooperation” in grading.
  • Don't.


work strategies
Work Strategies
  • Keep up with grading. Don't get backlogged!
  • Announce limits to when you will answer student’s email or message board posts.
    • E.g. "I won't answer email/message board after 10 PM"
    • If you are going out of town without connectivity, let the students know.
  • If you class is small enough, set up the message board to "Email on Post".
    • Checking the message board is as easy as checking your email.


work strategies1
Work Strategies
  • You don't need to provide a refresher for the pre-req course materials.
    • If a student repeatedly asks about what they should already know, refer them to your professor with the suggestion they retake the pre-req course.
  • You don't need to give students your home phone number, cell phone number, instant messaging name, etc.
    • If you put your student directory entry under a "privacy block", it will prevent students from looking up this information.
    • If you want to use instant messaging for students, use separate account just for the class.


teaching resources
Teaching Resources
  • Wolfware: http://wolfware.ncsu.edu
    • Submissions, grading, message board
  • WebAssign: http://webassign.ncsu.edu/
    • Online question/answer homework
  • Virtual Computing Laboratory: http://vcl.ncsu.edu/
    • Lets folks reserve dedicated computers with any OS
  • MOSS: http://theory.stanford.edu/~aiken/moss/
    • Measure of Software Similarity - detect cheaters
  • ClassTech: http://www.ncsu.edu/classtech/
    • Classroom projectors and such


  • http://wolfware.ncsu.edu
  • Features:
    • Class roll
    • Message boards
    • Grade Books
    • Submit/Return Assignments
  • Course Website: http://courses.ncsu.edu/cscXXX/lec/YYY
  • Course Locker:/afs/eos.ncsu.edu/courses/csc/cscXXX/lec/YYY


  • http://webassign.ncsu.edu
  • Online homework, quizzing, and testing application
  • The inputs to the questions can be randomized to reduce cheating
  • Grading is done automatically


  • MOSS: "Measure of Software Similarity"
    • Used to detect plagiarism in programming assignments
  • http://theory.stanford.edu/~aiken/moss/
  • Languages: C, C++, Java, C#, Python, Perl, Visual Basic, more!


moss demo 1
MOSS Demo (1)
  • Register a moss account via email
    • TO: moss@moss.stanford.eduregisterusermail youremailaddress@ncsu.edu
  • Get moss.pl script from the reply email
    • ...or from the web page, if you change the $userid line manually
  • In one directory, put:
    • The moss.pl script
    • All submissions in student-ID-named subdirectories
    • Any common code supplied to the students

(we'll call it ALL-SUPPLIED.c)


moss demo 2
MOSS Demo (2)

$ ls

someguy16 someguy24 someguy25 someguy49

someguy55 someguy7 moss.pl ALL-PROVIDED.c

$ perl moss.pl

usage: moss [-x] [-l language] [-d] [-b basefile1] ... [-b basefilen] [-m #] [-c "string"] file1 file2 file3 ...

$ perl moss.pl -b ALL-PROVIDED.c -l c */*.[ch]

Checking files . . .


Uploading ALL-PROVIDED.c ...done.

Uploading someguy55/main.c ...done.

Uploading someguy55/parse.h ...done.

... SNIP ...

Query submitted. Waiting for the server's response.


Base file

Language is C

List of student files


moss demo 3
MOSS Demo (3)

- List of similar pairs

- Ignore irrelevant ones

- High percentages are suspicious


moss demo 4
MOSS Demo (4)

- Lots of similar (colored) code

- Similar structure

- Possible plagiarism? Tell the professor.


moss demo 5
MOSS Demo (5)

- Not much similar code

- False positive, ignore it.


virtual computing laboratory
Virtual Computing Laboratory
  • URL: http://vcl.ncsu.edu/
  • On-demand reservation of dedicated servers running any OS you pick
  • Unlike remote access machines, VCL nodes are:
    • Faster
    • Able to be abused without consequence
    • Customizable for your course

(contact VCL for info)


who s who
Who’s Who
  • A quick guide to people who will be important to you in your TA duties.
  • A more general list about “Who do I see for…” can be found here:
    • http://www.csc.ncsu.edu/department/admin-duties.php


who s who1
Who’s Who
  • Dr. Mladen Vouk
    • Department Head
  • Dr. David Thuente
    • Director of Graduate Programs
    • Assigns TAs to classes
    • Graduate Advisor
  • Dr. Dennis Bahler
    • Director of Undergraduate Programs


who s who2
Who’s Who
  • Dr. Barbara Adams
    • Assistant Director of Advising
    • Departmental policy expert
    • Undergraduate advisor
  • Mr. Jason Corley
    • Information Technology Manager
    • Class servers and technology
  • Mr. Ron Hartis
    • Director of Operations
    • See him for problems with facilities


who s who3
Who’s Who
  • Mrs. Linda Honeycutt
    • Dept Office Manager, HR, Executive Assistant
    • In charge of key fobs
  • Ms. Ginny Adams
    • Faculty Secretary
    • In charge of the textbook library


distance education
Distance Education

Most Distance Education (DE) Students:

  • are taking courses part-time and have full-time jobs.
  • are not from the typical student age-group.
  • are probably too far for face-to-face interaction.
  • will not follow the web lectures with regularity.
  • will not have access to university lab resources.


distance education tips
Distance Education Tips
  • Hold separate office hours DE students vs. in-class students.
    • Saves in-class students from waiting while you return a DE student’s call, and
    • Saves DE students from waiting on your IM while talking to in-class students.
  • Hold electronic office hours via phone & instant messenger (Yahoo!, AIM, etc.).
    • Create a new IM account specifically for the class.
    • Have the phone nearby a workstation.
  • Keep your email turnaround time as short as possible.
    • If you need time to respond, send a reply acknowledging receipt of the email.


distance education tips1
Distance Education Tips
  • Communicate critical information quickly via email.
    • Send out all announcements, deadlines, schedule changes, and any other information provided in class.
  • Streamline your submission process.
    • Don't rely on technology that isn't commonly available.
    • If programming projects are involved, work with students to figure out any issues that arise in their submissions. If possible, require student code to run on a common environment, such as a VCL machine.
  • Keep the website and related resources updated.
    • Include "last updated" timestamps.
    • Post all the slides or supporting material online as soon as it is available.


de technology and tools
DE Technology and Tools
  • Message Boards: Wolfware message boards allow DE students to discuss course-related topics, and encourages interaction between DE students and in-class students.
  • Blogs: Blogs allow you to effectively communicate information about the class.
    • If students are instructed to monitor the RSS feeds, they can receive blog updates whenever they occur.
    • Can encourage discussion on topics related to the class but outside of the curriculum.


ta stories
TA Stories

The air conditioning in the Daniels Labs is somewhat on and off, and it can get really hot in the rooms. On the first day of lab, a student tried to open a window and ended up putting his hand through the glass. He was bleeding so I asked him if he wanted me to call for help or if he wanted to walk to the health center, and he opted to walk and got it taken care of. I suppose the lesson to be learned here is not to panic if something unexpected happens, and also not to let the students touch the windows.


ta stories1
TA Stories

The csc116 classes had just started paired programming, and in my lab section there were two students paired together who really didn't like each other, and they started calling each other different racial slurs among other things, and I had to bring one of them out of the lab to diffuse the situation. One of the students ended up dropping the section. I guess the key thing here is if you detect a potentially bad situation brewing, it's best to pull them aside and talk to each of them separately and do what is necessary to make the lab environment an easy place to work for everyone.


ta stories2
TA Stories

I was grading Programming assignments in a section that did not use MOSS to catch cheaters, and I noticed two programs that were identical. A girl submitted a guy's work without even changing his name on the top of the code. I brought it to the attention of the instructor. It turned out there were about 6 people involved in a code copying circle. The message new TAs can get from this is if they find something questionable, they should bring it to the attention of the instructor of the class, and definitely not confront the students themselves.


ta stories3
TA Stories

CSC 579 class was video taped for the EOL students. I went earlier whenever I had to give my first lecture. I started complaining that there were no hairdressers and people to do my make-up in order to look pretty on the camera. This aroused laugh and woke up the students since the class was early in the morning and most of them were really sleepy. Making jokes arouses the interest in a lecture. Be careful not to insult any of the students.


ta stories4
TA Stories

Students are sometimes intimidated with math classes especially with probability. It’s usually good to make fun of yourself to lighten the atmosphere. Once during my office hours students had a pretty tough HW and there came almost half of the class students (20 people) all together in one day. It was like teaching a class. I was explaining passionately on top of a piece of paper when suddenly looked up at the students’ faces… It was like I was explaining to the paper and not to them. They were looking at the equations like they were out of this world. So I exclaimed: “Don’t look at the equations like they are aliens! I am an alien!!” There was some numbness and then… a burst of laugh 


ta stories5
TA Stories

I was teaching an intro programming class and had a student who wanted me to accept a late programming assignment. He approached me after class and gave me the assignment which I refused. He then got upset, yelled at me, and left. He later apologized for his behavior. Not everyone in your class will like you. Some will blame you for their low grades. But you have to stick to the policy of the classroom.


the end
The end

Thanks for coming!


webct vista
WebCT Vista
  • http://vista.ncsu.edu
  • Enterprise e-learning system
  • Communication tools
    • Discussion board, chat room whiteboard
  • Content tools
    • Learning modules, media library
  • Evaluation tools
    • Quizzes, surveys
  • Class Management tools
    • Gradebooks, group sign up sheets


classtech classroom technology
ClassTech Classroom Technology
  • http://www.ncsu.edu/classtech/
  • Projectors and so-on
  • Supports classroom technologies @ NCSU
  • Consulting Services
    • Facility and Systems Design, Tech Purchasing, Maintenance and Support
  • Support Services
    • Training, Inspections


who s who4
Who’s Who
  • Ms. Ginny Adams
  • Faculty Secretary
  • In charge of the textbook library


who s who5
Who’s Who
  • Dr. David Thuente
  • Director of Graduate Programs
  • Assigns TAs to classes
  • Graduate Advisor


who s who6
Who’s Who
  • Dr. Dennis Bahler
  • Director of Undergraduate Programs


who s who7
Who’s Who
  • Mr. Jason Corley
  • Information Technology Manager
  • Class servers and technology


who s who8
Who’s Who
  • Mr. Ron Hartis
  • Director of Operations
  • See him if problems with facilities