WINTER QUARTER 2009 — Information and Computer SciencesUC Irvine

Teaching Assistant Seminar (ICS 398A)


Instructor: David G. Kay, 5056 Donald Bren Hall. Stop by any time, or send electronic mail to "kay".

Meeting time and place: Wednesdays, 10:00 to 11:50 a.m. in ICS 243. As a two-unit class, ICS 398A will meet for about 15 hours in total.

Enrollment information: All new or prospective ICS teaching assistants are required to attend ICS 398A, which is offered this year in the fall and winter quarters. It's ideal to take ICS 398 in the first quarter you're actually teaching, although that isn't always possible.

ICS 398B, the Advanced TA Seminar, is offered in the spring quarter this year. ICS 398B covers such issues as designing assignments, exams, and courses, assigning grades, and other issues in running your own course; it is valuable for everyone, and required for TAs who may wish to teach their own classes (as many grad students do in summer session or through University Extension, not to mention in their own academic jobs). You don't have to take ICS 398B in Spring 2009; you may take it later in your career, but you must complete it before you can be appointed as an instructor in summer session or Extension.

Course requirements: This seminar is not designed to impose a time burden on the participants beyond the class meetings themselves. Grading is satisfactory/unsatisfactory or pass/not-pass, and we ask only that you attend the meetings, participate in the discussions and activities, give one or two short presentations on material you expect to be teaching, and arrange through the campus Teaching, Learning & Technology Center (x46188) to be videotaped in your class (whichever quarter you will be teaching).

Any benefit you get from this course (unlike most computer science classes, but like most seminars) comes from the in-class discussions and activities. We expect everyone to attend every meeting; that's not asking very much. You may have to miss a meeting (e.g., because you have to travel to a conference), but missing more than one will not be looked on favorably.

Topics to be covered: In a seminar like this, the topics don't all come in a predetermined order. Over the course of the quarter we will cover the following, and more: motivating students, teaching techniques and styles, grading exams and assignments, dealing with cheating and problem students, working with faculty, departmental and university policies. Most of our time will be devoted to discussion and hands-on participatory activities.

Approximate course schedule:

Week 1

7 January

Introductions and overview of university teaching

Week 2

14 January
Grading policies, practices, philosophies

Week 3

21 January

TA presentations and presentation strategies

Week 4

28 January
TA presentations

Week 5

4 February Exam grading

Week 6

11 February Grading students' programs and projects

Week 7

18 February Preventing and detecting academic dishonesty

Week 8

25 February Motivation, problem students, teaching styles
Epilogue and looking ahead

Quick resource guide:

This syllabus (with all its hyperlinks) is available on line at

If you don't have an assigned office (or prefer not to hold your scheduled office hours there), you may use a designated room (ICS 406A or 406B) by advance reservation with the appropriate staff support person in your department: in Statistics, Rosemary Busta []; in Computer Science, Carolyn Simpson []; in Informatics, Sabina Chung []),

For information about network-based class support (class Email lists, home pages, rosters, and so on), see Within ICS, we support automatic assignment submission via (have your instructor contact and automated detection of plagiarism in prose and code (see

For a UCInet ID (an Email account—you'll need one for access to some EEE features and Checkmate), see You can redirect Email from this account to another account (, for example) via the web:

David G. Kay,

Thursday, January 1, 2009 6:49 PM