Teaching Methods in Computer Science

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

Winter 2023: CSE 1202

Instructor: Prof. Mai ElSherief (melsherief@eng.ucsd.edu)

Office hours: Wed 4-5 pm (Zoom link) or by appointment

TA: Mohana Seelan (mseelan@ucsd.edu)

Office hours: By Appointment


Why take CSE 599?

CSE 599 will help you during your first CSE TA experience. In this class, you will learn how to synthesize information and help others learn it. You will meet weekly with other first-time TAs and a mentor to share your experiences and practice key skills. And you will document your learning process by observing teaching and reflecting on your growth.

Schedule of Topics

References from the Education Research/Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Literature


What is the workload for CSE 599 and how is it graded?

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.

This class is taken S/U. We hope that every student will successfully earn a passing grade in this class. To do so, you need to meet or exceed the following minimum passing thresholds in each course component by Wednesday of Finals week.

  • Engaged practice

  • You will practice effective teaching and reflect on your growth over the quarter. In the CSE 599 practicum and in your own TA work, you'll continue to apply and grow your skills, while also observing others.

  • You are expected to fully participate in every CSE 599 class session, including arriving on time (or early), engaging in group activities (without multitasking), 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 the CSE 599 TA and the instructor ahead of time, and to propose and carry out a plan to make up the missed work. One way to make up the missed work is described in the relevant documents in the assignment descriptions folder.

  • You must complete the CSE 599 pre-class and post-class survey and any other assigned surveys or reflections in a timely manner.

  • Project

  • There are several options for this assignment so that you can customize your CSE 599 work to your goals for your TA experience and this quarter.

  • Each of these options has assigned checkpoints to be completed by Wednesday of Week 6.

  • You must complete the CSE 599 Project assignment by Wednesday of finals week.

  • Please see the details in the assignment descriptions folder.

Around Week 6 of the quarter, we will have a checkpoint to confirm that you are on track for successfully completing the course requirements. Students who do not pass this checkpoint may not be offered TA appointments for the next quarter.

With the successful completion of this class, you will be able to:

  1. Effectively carry out the basic roles and responsibilities of CSE TAs at UC San Diego.

  • Communicate with your instructor to align expectations about the specific roles and responsibilities of your TA position

  • 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.

  • Maintain and safeguard protected student data.

  1. Connect professionalism to teamwork and teaching and reflect on your development as a professional.

  • 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.

  1. Describe several theories of how people learn and apply them to teaching and learning strategies.

  • Design specific, low-stakes activities to find out what students do and don't know.

  • Use techniques for creating inclusive communities for learning.


This course and its resources were adapted from versions developed at UC San Diego by Dean Tullsen, Beth Simon, Leo Porter, Gary Gillespie, Christine Alvarado, and Niema Moshiri, and by workshop material developed at University of Calgary by Laleh Behjat. Additional reference material was shared by Stanley Lo, Jim Cooke, and the Teaching + Learning Commons