Fall 2015 Wednesdays 2:00-3:20pm CSE 1202

** No meeting Wednesday September 23 **

Instructor: Mia Minnes (minnes@eng.ucsd.edu), CSE 4206
Lead TA: Dorothy Yen (doyen@eng.ucsd.edu)

Course Organization

All resources and assignments will be posted on this website. Discussions and some homework submission will be through Piazza. I also encourage you to use the Piazza discussion board to raise questions about your TA experiences, share advice or tips, or ask for help. Most of you will be TAing for the first time this quarter: use each other for support.

Caution: Discussions in this course (including Piazza) are expected to be professional and respectful. Be aware of issues around confidentiality and student privacy when posting your questions on Piazza. If in doubt, wait before you post and talk to me or a mentor TA directly.


Welcome to CSE 599! In this class, we'll work on becoming better teachers and computer scientists. I am incredibly excited to welcome you to this class. I love teaching, and I look forward to sharing my passion as well as my knowledge of the field with you. I strongly believe that a lot of what we do as teachers informs our work as computer scientists, and vice versa. So even though this class has a focus on the use of technical skills for teaching (and with a specific focus on undergraduate students), the reality is that as a computing expert you'll find applications of what we talk about every day, regardless of your specific career path. For example, almost any presentation or communication of your technical knowledge will involve "teaching" those less expert than yourself. And more often than not, you'll be navigating large teams and diverse audiences.

What does this course offer to me?

This course is designed to be a practical "on the ground" (or, rather "in the classroom"), hands-on experience learning or improving the knowledge and skills you will need to be an effective TA. In this course you will learn and practice both theoretical concepts and practical skills. In particular, by the end of this course you will be able to do all of the things listed in the Course Learning Outcomes.

How, exactly, am I going to accomplish this?

Each of our weekly 80 minute sessions will be supplemented with out of class activities and reading to prepare you to engage in both class meetings and to prepare you for your TA experience. As part of this you should expect to:

Is there a textbook for this course?

There is no required textbook. Readings will be taken from sources available online. However, we do strongly recommend the book What the Best College Teachers Do, by Ken Bain, if you're curious about teaching and teaching well.

How will I (and the professor) know if I am making progress in my learning?

Honestly, as with many graduate-level classes, what you will get out of this class is proportionally related to what you put into it. Some of the things that you can do to get the most from this opportunity are:

OK, but how will I be graded?

This class is graded on a pass/no pass basis. Because this class is so much about participation, a large part of your grade is based on your participation. Here's more detail: Each of your discussion posts and practicum assignments will be graded on a 3 point scale as follows. If the assignment is late, it will receive one point lower than it would have had it been on time. Each week your participation in class and will be tracked as follows:

What's the bottom line? How do I pass?

Here are the minimum requirements for passing the class. If you meet all of these requirements, you will pass. If you do not, you will not pass. I lay this out clearly so you always know exactly where you stand and there is no question of what you need to do to earn a passing grade. It's not hard to pass this class if you just do the few hours of work per week that it requires.

What if I have to miss a class for a legitimate reason, like a conference? Or what if I am just really sick?

You may miss one class for any reason with no penalty. If you need to miss up to two classes, you must get the instructor's permission before the end of Week 2. She may decide it is more appropriate that you wait to take the class in a future term. If you need to miss more than 2 classes for any reason you cannot pass the class, so please plan to take it in a future quarter.


This course and its resources were adapted from versions developed at UC San Diego by Dean Tullsen, Beth Simon, Christine Alvarado, and Leo Porter, and by workshop material developed at University of Calgary by Laleh Behjat.

Frequently asked questions