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Tasks for TAs
Here is a rough list of the tasks that I ask my teaching assistants
- Attend all classes.
- Update the page I identify on the course homepage as the TA's
Information Page (this should map to the
file TA-information.html in the course's web directory).
Besides your contact information and office hours, you can include
other information (including pointers) that you wish to convey to
- Discuss your preferred office hours with me.
- Keep posted office hours.
- Learn about the class mailing lists on Wolfware and respond to
any requests from students about adding extra addresses.
- Learn about the submit utilities and help students submit their
project work. There are tutorials on the WolfWare Help
- Set up the necessary message board forums (e.g., one for students
to find team members; one for projects; and one for concepts and
theory). Make sure students from all sections of the course that
I teach can read and write to the same message board
forums—that is, create a message board for one section and
point the other sections to that message board.
- Help design homework problems and project descriptions as needed
early in the semester.
- Review homework problems and especially project descriptions to
help identify potential ambiguities early. Since you will be the
main point of contact for students in the course, it is essential
that you are sure of what is expected.
- Solve all homeworks and post solutions on the due date. It helps
to solve the problems before the due date so you and I can
discuss your solutions and be confident that the advice you give
to students is valid.
- Solve old exams and be prepared to discuss them with students.
- Grade homeworks; tell me about common mistakes.
- Grade projects in consultation with me.
- Maintain a spreadsheet for the students' points. Ask me for a
template. Take backups! Please!
- Proof read the exam to check for mistakes and to be sure you can
answer questions from the students.
- I grade the exams myself, but I usually would expect you to look
over the exams after I have graded them to verify that I didn't
make any errors. I like to return exams to students within a
week, so allow some time for this task.
- Proctor exams
- Print the exam and make enough copies. Make single-sided
copies. If the exam is printed on more than one sheet of paper,
use the copier's automatic stapler to minimize your work. But
check that the stapling is on the correct corner!
- For each enrolled student, write his or her name on a
different exam paper—yes, the TA writes the names.
(Also identify the section the student is enrolled in, unless
they are all from the same section.) The idea is to hand exactly
one exam paper to each student. At the end we will have unused
exam papers for the students who didn't show up. This avoids
potential confusion. Also, it can matter when some students are
taking the exam later than the rest of the class—we don't
want spare exam papers to be floating around in class or with
- If the class room doesn't have a document camera, make one
transparency copy in case you need to mark any
corrections—there should at most be trivial corrections to
mark. If so, also take along a blank transparency and a marker.
If the class has an EOL section, it is best not to make any
corrections at all.
- Take along a sufficiently large campus mail envelope.
- If possible, take along a stapler.
- If possible, take along some blank paper for the students to
- Draw separating lines on one or two signup sheets (in the
landscape orientation). Have the students write their names on
them and pass them up or down their column. Ask those sitting
toward the front of the room sign at the top of their
- Ask the students to staple their answer sheets under the
exam sheet and not to fold their exam papers.
- Stack the papers in the order turned in with the last one at the
- Put the papers, transparencies (or the paper copy you put on the
document camera), and spare exam papers into the envelope.
- Note down the number of attendees on the envelope.
- Pick up the stapler if you brought one.
- Guard the envelope well until you do one of the following:
- Hand the envelope to me in person.
- Leave the envelope under my office door. If you do so, make sure
you push it in far enough that it cannot be removed from the
outside. Send me an email when you do so.
- Hand the envelope to the Department of Computer Science
receptionist, who can put it in secure mailbox. Send me an email
when you do so.
- Conduct class, if necessary, when I am away—I will supply
the information to cover in the class.
- For courses with a project involving databases or application
servers, do the following.
- Get an Oracle account.
- Create a shared database—shared for reading by the entire
- Create tables corresponding to the textbook examples.
- Run simple SQL queries on the tables.
- Run the JDBC and any other programming examples—debug and
correct the instructions.
- Describe the tables and queries to the students.
- Review the project narrative and project report details and
assist students in understanding the requirements.
- Create teams and ensure that appropriate DBMS and application
server accounts are created for each team.