Teaching Methods in Computer Science

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

Winter 2022: Remote instruction till further notice

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

Office hours: TBA

TA: Mohana Seelan (mseelan@ucsd.edu)


Nuts and Bolts

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.


CSE 599 is a 2-unit course: expect to spend up to 6 hours per week on this course, including a 40 minute weekly synchronous practicum session. The additional five 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. Specifically:

  • Surveys and reflections

You must complete the CSE 599 pre-class and post-class survey. At the beginning of the quarter, you will define your TA role and responsibilities (using the ASES form). Each week, you'll fill out a short form to track how you carry out these duties and to reflect on successes and on areas for improvement.

  • Engaged attendance

You are expected to fully participate in all of each practicum meeting, including arriving on time (or early) and engaging in group discussions. On (rare) occasions when unavoidable circumstances require you to miss a class session, you are expected to notify your practicum teammates, the CSE 599 TA, and the instructor ahead of time, and to make up the missed work.

  • Teaching practice

You will practice effective teaching informed by science of learning and you will reflect on your growth over the quarter. In the CSE 599 practicum and in your own TA work (e.g in discussion), you'll continue to apply and grow your skills, while also observing others. At the end of the quarter, you will reflect on your teaching methods and perspectives.

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.

Learning Outcomes

  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.

Schedule of Topics

Practicum topic (activity description)

Week 1 No practicum session this week: Meet via Zoom Wednesday 2pm-3:20pm

Week 2 Professionalism and FERPA

Week 3 Grading

Week 4 Office hour roleplay

Week 5 No practicum session this week

Week 6 Teaching practices, part 1

Week 7 Academic integrity

Week 8 Designing a good question

Week 9 Teaching practices, part 2

Week 10 No practicum session this week

You will explore education research in a self-paced and self-directed component of this class. Teaching resources grouped by topic are here. The topics are Active Learning; Growth Mindset; Grading, part 1; Inclusive Classrooms; Academic Integrity; Overcoming challenges; Grading, part 2.


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.

Surveys and forms

All required surveys and forms must be completed by Wednesday of Week 10.


Any missed practicum session is communicated to the CSE 599 instructor and TA in writing and a plan to make up the missed work is proposed and carried out. Activities and handouts for each week's practicum are available here.

Regular TA reflections

The reflections must start by week 2 and there can be no more than a three-week gap between reflections. For example, reflections on your week 1, week 4, week 7, and week 10 activities would meet the minimum passing threshold.

Micro-teaching video: watch and reflect

You'll record yourself explaining a technical concept for 3-4 mins. Then, you will watch yourself and reflect upon Delivery, Structure, and Interactivity. This assignment will be most beneficial to you if you do it early in the quarter. Late submissions will be accepted till Week 10.

Observation Reflection

You must complete the Observation Reflection assignment by Wednesday of Week 10.

Scholarly teaching

You will explore recent education research papers to inform your teaching. You must complete all seven Topic Quick Responses as well as your Teaching Resource Video presentation by the deadlines specified in the assignment.


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