Winter Quarter 2018 — 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

Meeting time and place: Wednesdays, 2:00 to 3:50 p.m. in a room to be arranged. As a two-unit class, ICS 398A will meet for about 15 hours in total, though we're expecting a large class so we may have a couple of semi-optional extra meetings.

Enrollment information: All new or prospective ICS teaching assistants are required to attend ICS 398A, which is offered this year in both fall and winter quarters. It's ideal to take ICS 398A in the first quarter you're actually teaching, although that isn't always possible. If you won't be teaching this quarter, you could take ICS 398A next quarter; if you know you won't be teaching until next year, you could wait until then.

ICS 398B, the Advanced TA Seminar, will be offered in winter quarter. 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 may take ICS 398B later in your career, but it isn't offered every year and 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 Center for Engaged Instruction (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. Please check your calendar for the rest of the quarter and resolve any conflicts now.

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

10 January

Introductions and overview of university teaching

Week 2

17 January

TA presentations and presentation strategies

Week 3

24 January

TA presentations

Week 4

31 January

TA presentations

Week 5

7 February

Grading policies, practices, philosophies

Week 6

14 February

Exam grading

Week 7

21 February

— No class meeting —

Week 8

28 February

Grading students' programs and projects

Week 9

7 March

Preventing and detecting academic dishonesty

Week 10

14 March

Motivation, problem students, teaching styles, epilogue and looking ahead

Quick resource guide:

This syllabus (with all its hyperlinks) is available on line at There are other useful resources on David Kay's Teaching in ICS page.

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, Suzie Barrows []).

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:

We have set up a forum at for you to make comments or ask questions about anything relating to teaching in ICS. Sign yourself up and then participate!

David G. Kay,

Thursday, January 4, 2018 12:14 PM