Computing Science

Duties, Responsibilities and Evaluation

Lectures

Lectures are given by the instructor. It is up to you and the instructor to decide if you need to attend them.

Lab Sections

In addition to their course lecture sections, undergraduate students also often required to enroll in lab sections - periods scheduled for smaller groups of students to get hands-on experience in a Computing Science laboratory. The maximum number of students that can register in a lab section is determined by the number of workstations in a lab room. This number could range from 10 to 35 depending on the course.

A Teaching Assistant (TA), usually a grad student, is assigned to a specific lab section in a specific course. The TA will give a brief presentation at the beginning of the lab period and then will answer individual students' questions. The TA is also responsible for marking the lab work. Lab sections in most courses operate in this manner, however there may be some variations.

Note: To avoid confusion when making requests, specify lab room or lab section instead of just lab.

Managing Your Lab Section

Office Hours

Office hours are weekly additional times outside of the regularly scheduled lab periods where any student from your course can go for help with lab work or lecture material. Presenting examples and solving problems are a good way to review the material. Students are encouraged to ask questions.

Office hours are not normally required but you can discuss this with your Course Contact and decide. The number of hours will depend on your course and what you decide with your Course Contact. If you are going to offer office hours, try to schedule them to span standard class times. For example, holding office hours from 9:30-10:30, 11:30-12:30, 1:30-2:30 or 3:30-4:30 will allow a lot more students the opportunity to attend.

Marking

Talk with your Course Contact to find out about assignments (how many, when will they be given, who will prepare the questions/solutions, grading scheme...)

You will normally be responsible for collecting and returning the assignments, either to the students or to the instructor. You may collect assignments in class, from the professor or lab instructor, from the drop-boxes in the markers' room or download files that the students have submitted. Make sure that you return the graded material on time.

Assignment Submission & Grading

TA Evaluation

A Teaching Assistantship is a job, and just like other jobs the TA must meet his/her responsibilities as assigned by his/her Course Contact in order to be funded. 

Student Evaluations

Ongoing feedback on performance is given to TAs by their Course Contact in the relevant course. Mid-term evaluations by students are often conducted followed by individual interviews between the Course Contact and TAs to provide timely help in correcting any perceived problems.

Student evaluations of TA performance are also conducted near the end of each term. TA evaluations can be picked up at the main office (2-32 Athabasca Hall). The results of the evaluations will be delivered to the TA's mailbox approximately one month after the evaluations were conducted in the lab to inform them of their performance relative to other TAs on campus, and to communicate any specific comments students may have had. The TA Assignment Director keeps these records.

End of Term Evaluations

At the end of the term, the Course Contact will fill out an evaluation form assessing their TA's knowledge, diligence and progress. These evaluations should be emailed to the TA approximately one month after the term ends. They are intended to provide useful feedback both to TAs, and the decision makers regarding continuation of Departmental support. The TA Assignment Director also keeps these records.

TA Evaluation of Instructors

Though there is currently no formal mechanism for the TA to evaluate their Course Contact, it is nonetheless encouraged. You may provide feedback to

  • Your Course Contact directly (if you feel comfortable)
  • The Associate Chair (Graduate) and/or the TA Assignment Director