Teaching Methods in Computer Science

CSE 599 is a TA development class for incoming TAs in Computer Science and Engineering classes.

Fall 2017
Wednesdays 2pm-3:20pm CSE 1202
Mia Minnes (minnes@eng.ucsd.edu), CSE 4206
Sindhura Raghavan (sindhura@eng.ucsd.edu)


By the end of this class, you will be able to:

  1. Effectively carry out the basic roles and responsibilities of TAs at UC San Diego.
    More specifically ...
    • Communicate with your instructor to align expectations about the specific roles and responsibilities of your TA position in a given quarter.
    • Effectively plan and deliver discussion sections with clear learning objectives and implementing active learning strategies.
    • Create and use rubrics to support efficient and replicable grading.
  2. Connect professionalism to teamwork and teaching and reflect on your development as a professional.
    More specifically ...
    • Reflect on your and your teammates' collaborations to assess what's working well, what can be improved, and how to improve it.
    • Identify priority areas for attention and improvement, and identify where efficiency can help decrease time spent on non-priority areas.
    • Connect skills and insights from your role as a TA to future career goals.
  3. Describe several theories of how people learn and apply them to teaching and learning strategies.
    More specifically ...
    • Design specific, low-stakes activities to find out what students do and don't know.
    • Use techniques for creating inclusive communities for learning.

You will be evaluated on:

Completion of required pre-class assignments.
At the start of the quarter, you must complete the CSE 599 student contract and pre-class survey. At the end of the quarter, you must complete the CSE 599 post-class survey.
Professional behavior and attendance.
You are expected to fully participate in every class session, including arriving on time (or early), engaging in group activities, and participating in large- and small-group discussions. On (rare) occasions when unavoidable circumstances require you to miss a class session, you are expected to notify your practicum teammates, the CSE 599 TA, and the instructor ahead of time, and to propose and carry out a plan to make up the missed work.
Regular reflections on your TA activities.
At the beginning of the quarter, you will define your TA role and responsibilities (using the ASES form). Each week, you'll track what and how you do to carry out these duties, and you'll reflect on successes and on areas for improvement.
Engagement with themes discussed in CSE 599.
The CSE 599 themes include communication, feedback, how people learn, educational technology, assessment, inclusiveness, and next steps. Each week, you'll reflect on the background readings and/or CSE 599 discussions related to one (or more) of these themes.
Teaching observations and feedback.
Throughout the quarter you will practice and observe teaching by recording yourself on video, micro-teaching in the CSE 599 practicum, and leading your own discussion section as a TA. You will track your growth throughout the quarter and give feedback to your peers on their teaching.

Assignment details and minimum passing standards.

What is the workload for CSE 599?

As CSE 599 is a 2-unit course, expect to spend up to 6 hours per week on this course, including the 80 minute weekly session. The additional three-and-a-half or so hours per week will be spent evaluating and refining your TA activities, preparing for CSE 599 practicum sessions, and consulting background research papers, information guides, and videos.

Weekly Schedule

The background material are handouts / tips / advice from past TAs (H), video clips and interviews (V), self-tests (T), and published research papers (R).

Week Theme Background Due before class Practicum
0 Nuts & Bolts
* Students speak: What's a good TA? H
* What makes a good TA? H
* Tips for discussion section H
* Effective board use H
* Teaching methodology handout H
* Understanding rubrics R
No small group session today
Entire class session in CSE 2154
1 How People Learn
* How People Learn, ch 1 R
* Video collection: evidence-based education V
* EEG study on active learning R
* Active learning techniques (not all tech-based) H
* Peer Instruction (Porter et al.) R
Micro video: watch & reflect Elevator Pitch
(Elevator Pitch strategies H )
2 Assessment
* Stanford "TA to TA" grading tips H
* Perspectives on grading H
* Instructional goals and grading (Marshman et al.) (arXiv) R
* Consistent grading (Henderson et al.) R
* NCWIT research on encouragement H
practicum prep Micro-teach I
3 Academic Integrity
* Case study: Cheating H
practicum prep Micro-teach I
4 Inclusiveness
* Implicit Bias Project T
* Imposter syndrome gallery V
* Stereotype threat (Steele, Aronson) R
* Piazza study on STEM confidence gap R
* NY Times article H
practicum prep Grading I
5 How People Learn
* Teaching & Learning theories T
* TOCE - Alternatives to Lecture R
* Situated Cognition (Brown, Collins, Duguid) R
* Note-taking (Bonner, Holliday) R
* Student and Expert (Hrepic et al.) R
practicum prep Micro-teach II or Grading II
6 Assessment
and Feedback
* 7 things you should know about ... H
* Bloom's Taxonomy H
* Research on Student Evaluations of Teaching R
practicum prep Micro-teach II or Grading II
7 Grad Panel * Confidence in grad school R No small group session today
Entire class session in CSE 1202
8 No class (day before Thanksgiving) Catch up any missing work
9 Communication
Group work
* Social styles T
* Group roles H
* Toastmasters tips H
* Impact of gendered language R
* Interview: teams and learning V
* English Language Resources H
practicum prep Office hours roleplay
10 Next steps * Harvard Extension: "Soft skills" for IT H
* "Soft skills": in tech H
* Teaching Perspectives Inventory T
* Tomorrow's Professor H
* UCSD Summer Graduate Teaching Scholars H
No small group session today
Entire class session in CSE 1202


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