This document answers some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the UCLA Computer Science Department.
Feel free to add, correct, or organize the information in this document, and share YOUR experience. If you are a TAC, you should have write permission to this file: /u/class/ta/faq.html
On the Web this document is http://www.cs.ucla.edu/classes/ta/faq.html.
How can I contribute to this FAQ?
You should receive all TA notices by e-mail. Look in /u/class/ta/dist-ta.list. If your login name is not in this file, send mail to the current TAC.
As far as filling out paperwork, picking-up paychecks or arranging for your paychecks to be direct deposited into a checking acct. You will want to talk to Diana (diana@cs). She handles all payroll matters for TA's. It is not a bad idea to check in with her occasionally to make sure everything is in order. Before the quarter begins, you will need to see Diana in order to sign your TA contract. If you are TAing during a given quarter, you should receive email from her inviting you to her office to sign these documents.
Along with your hiring paperwork, you will need to complete a "TA Responsibility" form with your course's instructor that outlines your workload expectation for the quarter. Though these forms are stated to be due before the first day of instruction, this is a soft deadline; you should still strive to complete them as close to the start of the quarter as possible.
The best way to find out what previous TAs have done or to access to their materials is to talk to the TAs themselves. To find out who has TAed your course in the past, you can consult the professor or the TAC.
Also, you can access the CourseWeb page for previous quarters.
Past TAs are an excellent resource for getting started. Talk to the professor you're TAing for or the TAC to see if they can point you to past TAs.
These are held only for courses. Your interaction with the students will mainly be during the Discussion sections, usually during Fridays. You might be in charge of more than one section. This time is used to go over the material that was covered during lectures by the professor - new material is not introduced unless the professor asks you to do so. Presenting examples and solving problems are a good way to review the material. Students are encouraged to ask questions. Depending on your class, you may also have to: Give quizzes, collect homeworks, give back graded homeworks and quizzes, discuss homework/quiz solutions, go over programming exercises. Your work in CS495 will well prepare you for the expectations and challenges of leading a successful discussion section.
Usually, you start out by going over the work that has to be done during that day. You will also have to go over any theory that they might require. You then move around helping the students do their experiments.
These are given by the professor. It is up to you and the professor to decide if you need to attend them.
You are expected to hold two office hours per week unless otherwise stated by your course's instructor (sometimes, as is the case with CS31/32, TAs are expected to hold a minimum of three office hours per week). Preferably, hold them on different days and times so that all students can make it to at least one of them. Also, try to schedule office hours to span standard class times. In other words, an office hour from 9:30-10:30, 11:30-12:30, 1:30-2:30, or 3:30-4:30 will allow a lot more students to be able to attend. You can ask your students for suitable times before fixing your office hours. Extra office hours may be held during examination weeks. Post your regular office hours on the CourseWeb homepage for your course, under the Syllabus/Info section. Office hours are usually held in Boelter 3256S.
Around one week before the start of each quarter, the TAC will send an email with details on how to sign up for specific days of the week and hours in Boelter 3256S. This schedule will be enforced throughout the quarter, and if you find that a TA hosts their office hours in contradiction with the official schedule, please contact the TAC.
TAs for large intro classes like CS31/32 may schedule office hours internally (i.e., with the instructor, rather than the TAC). The office hour sign-up email will have more information on any special-case courses and their associated office hour policies.
Talk with the professor to find out about homeworks and quizzes (how many, when will they be given, who will prepare the questions/solutions, grading scheme ...) If you handle over 45 students ask your professor if you can get a "reader" (usually a student who has taken the course previously and who will grade the homeworks for you; you will still be responsible for collecting and giving back the homeworks). Make sure that you return graded material in time.
You can collect homeworks in class or ask them to drop it off in one of the drop-boxes in Boelter 3256S. Pick an empty one, label the box clearly, and contact the TAC for a combination lock.
All new CS department TAs are required to have one of their discussion sections video-taped for feedback and review. Generally, these tapings are scheduled the first quarter that a TA leads a discussion (note: lab sections are exempt from the taping requirement, but are instead deferred until the first quarter that the TA leads a discussion).
At the beginning of each quarter, the TAC will send an email with details for scheduling a discussion taping. Once your taping is confirmed, a representative from Audio-Visual Services (AVS) will attend the first half of your discussion section (first ~50 minutes) and require that you provide an SD card at least 4GB in size to hold the video. After the discussion, or at the break, the representative will return the SD card for you to hold until your taping review at the beginning of the following quarter.
This is an incredibly valuable learning experience for you as an instructor, and the feedback you'll receive from reviewing your tape can vastly improve your teaching!
The department should have ordered a textbook for your use during the quarter. Contact the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer (Peyton) in Engr6 277, and they can order a textbook for you if she doesn't have it already.
Material/Building services has laptops and laptop projectors. Fill up their "Audio and Visual Services Request" form at www.matserv.ucla.edu. Don't fill in the recharge ID. Do give your course number and professor's name. They should then confirm your order. You can pick up the equipment from their office in Boelter 2685 (entrance from the outside corridor).
The best place to make class announcements, send emails to your class, and post materials is on the CourseWeb homepage for your course.
Additionally, you can use the following directory on the department servers: /u/class/XXXXYY/csZZZ. Where XXXX is the quarter (fall, winter, spring, summer), YY is the two-digit year, and XXXX is the course number. The web address for accessing this directory is http://www.cs.ucla.edu/classes/XXXXYY/csZZZ. If you can't create your files, check to see if you are in the "ta" group with "ypmatch ta group." If your login name is not on this list, send mail to the current TAC.
Each TA is allowed to use the photocopiers on the 3rd floor (BH 3276) for making class-related photocopies. You will need a code in order to access these machines. To obtain a code, see Osanna Kazarian (in BH 3531K) or Edna Todd (in BH 4532N).
A TA should not pay for any supplies necessary for teaching a class. Things like paper, folders, staplers, transparencies, dry-erase markers/erasers, etc. may be obtained from Edna Todd (in BH 4532N) or Osanna Kazarian (in BH 3531K).
APS stands for Academic Publishing Service, which is the on campus service for a professor or TA to produce some type of manual, or supplemental for their class. APS is located in the ASUCLA Copy store on the 3rd floor of Ackerman union. However, APS takes 3-4 weeks to produce anything. On the other hand, you can go to Copymat located in Westwood on Westwood Blvd, Across from the Bankof America, next to the Mrs. Fields. They will create your APS, and sell them to your students, and give you a free copy. The best part, is they will do this within 3-4 days, usually faster. So if you have a choice, go to Copymat and make your APS manuals there.
The CourseWeb homepage for your course includes a forum that you can enable your students to use.
The department should have ordered a textbook for your use during the quarter. Contact the Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer (currently TBD) in suite 4732, and she can order a textbook for you if she doesn't have it already.
You don't have to use an online gradebook, however you may set one up if you decide the students will find it useful. Here is a document in PDF format describing how.
A TA's role in collecting sample material for ABET is at the
discretion of a course instructor. Some instructors rely on their TAs
to collect sample student material, and some will perform this task
themselves (or with other assistance). You should speak to your
instructor about collecting samples of student work before returning
any handed-in assignments to students.
A document has been created which describes the typical TA role in
ABET sample collection. That document can be found
in Microsoft Word (.doc) form.
Before you can modify the webpage, the professor has to activate
it. This is a simple matter of him/her logging into CourseWeb and
activating it. After this has been done you should have admin rights
to the webpage.
If you do not have admin rights, or have any other issues getting started, please email the TAC.
The webpages usually contain the following information:
A forum is available for each class (a link is there on your default course webpage). This is meant for the students and TAs to ask/answer questions, make announcements, etc. Anyone can post on this board - please make sure that no inappropriate material gets posted.
Your teaching evaluations are now made available digitally via MyUCLA (under the "Classes" tab, find the course for which you are a TA and then the "Evaluations" column therein). They are accessible in PDF format once the course's instructor has submitted final grades.
Office hours and student meetings are held in the Learning Lounge (3256S Boelter Hall). There are two sides to the room, each with a pair of white boards. If you need dry erase markers, see Edna Todd (in BH 4532N) or Osanna Kazarian (in BH 3531K).
There are drop-boxes available in ?. Contact the TAC to get access to one. They are assigned on a quarterly basis.
To enter you need a "swipe card". If you don't have a swipe card or you need to add TA access, contact Mildri Lopez-Duarte (in Engr6 277). Ask for access to the Learning Lounge (BH 3256S).
If your swipe key doesn't work for some reason, you will need to talk to Mildri Lopez-Duarte (in Engr6 277).
1. Edit /u/class/ta/faq.html. Please add your name/e-mail address to the end of your comments. 2. Add your name to the document history at the end of faq.html. 3. Save a copy of faq.html in /u/class/ta/old_faqs; i.e. "faq-15.html". Please "chmod 664 yourfile", so that other TAs can read your file.