I am a TA for undergraduate Introduction to Programming class at freshman level. I usually have around 30 students per semester who have two hours of lecture earlier during the week with their professor then the applied three hours of lab hour with me. The labs start from how to compile and run code to variable assignments and arithmetic operations, flow control, arrays and very brief introduction to object oriented programming.

My problem stems from the fact that my university does not admit students into particular departments. They start as engineering students and select a diploma programme at the end of their freshman year. Furthermore, only computer science has a class for freshman year, all other departments start their department courses after students have picked their programme. This creates a bias for students who will pick other majors, such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering, even electrical engineering. I often get asked, “Why am I taking this course?”

During my lab hours, I have a quarter of the students who are eager to learn and want to discuss programming with me, mostly composed of those who will pick computer science programme. The rest feels like they don’t even want to be there, will get vocal when the assignment challenges them, disrupting the entire class (they are in the majority anyway). A lot of cases of cheating happen regularly which is automatically handled and they get a zero grade, after which they find ways to cheat the similarity detection by altering the shared code. My solution, which I am not definitely happy with, is giving into their demands, spelling out or sometimes typing the solutions. While they distribute the code among themselves and alter it to avoid cheat detection, I have enough time to tend to the first portion of students who actually benefit from the lab sessions.

  • This is my third semester, all of which were almost identical regarding this issue
  • As a TA, I have very little control over the content of the course itself, I do prepare lab material but according to guidelines set by the lecturers.
  • The professors are aware of the issue, I have brought it up numerous times. they are not happy with the universities policy either but the problem is often brushed away
  • It feels like discrimination towards students, which is a concept I don’t want to have in my classroom
  • I know what I’m doing is not ethical and I’m not happy with it, yet there doesn’t seem to be a better solution.

My questions then would be: how can I approach the class and handle this issue. I really would like to reach the majority of students who think programming is not beneficial to them as well as help the minority of the students to prepare them for the upcoming (and much harder) classes.

I am currently working as a teaching assistant.

My tasks this semester include writing/putting together a formula sheet containing a lot of formulas and some graphs that the students should not have to memorize.
This sheet will be used in the final exam.

A student recently send an e-mail asking whether he should print it out himself or will be given a copy upon taking the exam. Since I am not responsible for the exam or anything grading-related, this mail should have been addressed to the professor, since I can only guess
(although I am fairly certain it would not be useful to let students bring the sheets themselves and thus giving them a chance to alter them).

Now how I see it, I have the following options:

  • Forward the e-mail to my professor.
  • Answer the student vaguely, recommending to mail the professor.
  • Contact the professor; ask him what to do.

I’m unsure whether forwarding this mail would be appropriate. I’d also feel stupid for asking the professor about something that should be obvious.

Which of the outlined possibilities would be the most efficient, yet still appropriate way to go?

I am currently working as a teaching assistant.

My tasks this semester include writing/putting together a formula sheet containing a lot of formulas and some graphs that the students should not have to memorize.
This sheet will be used in the final exam.

A student recently send an e-mail asking whether he should print it out himself or will be given a copy upon taking the exam. Since I am not responsible for the exam or anything grading-related, this mail might should have been addressed to the professor, since I can only guess
(although I am fairly certain it would not be useful to let students bring the sheets themselves and thus giving them a chance to alter them).

Now how I see it, i have the following options:

  • Forward the e-mail to my professor
  • answer the student vaguely, recommending to mail the professor
  • contact the professor, ask him what to do

I’m unsure whether forwarding this mail would be appropriate. I’d also feel stupid for asking the professor about something that should be obvious.

Which of the outlined possibilites would be the most efficient, yet still appropriate way to go?

As a soon-to-be graduate student (fingers crossed) with funding (hopefully) in the US. I wanted to ask about what I should do or think of before my first day as a TA.

I am not deficit of experience leading groups of people, however much of my experience of large groups (>20 people) have been at the high school level and small groups (<5 people, namely class projects and research teams) at the university level. I know when it is time to take charge and when to take a back seat, when to praise my teammates work publically and when to call BS (sparingly and in private).

On a more comical (pardon the pun) experience, I can proudly boast that I am an avid reader of Phd Comics and XKCD, I am aware of the cultural and light-hearted quirks of being a graduate student from second-hand sources but not personally.

On that note, what I should take a look at and/or learn more about before day 1?

A sample list off the top of my head:

  • Dress Code: Business Casual or casual (t-shirt and jeans?)
  • Voice: Command Voice or conversational?
  • Syllabus: Everyone gets a copy or save trees?
  • OH: Early in the week on end of day on Friday?
  • Sarcasm: much appreciated or would be lost upon undergrads?
  • Fellow TA’s: a team effort to help undergrads or solo affair?
  • Grading: be lenient or strict?
  • Messaging: email or slack channel or text?
  • Enthusiasm: artificial sweetener or bitter coffee?
  • Humor and Jokes: being gregarious or straight to the point?
  • Music: Classical music or Speed Metal?
  • Homework: pointing in the right direction or detailed analysis and breakdown?
  • Caffeine: before, during, or after a class; and how much?

What he replied when I messaged him asking for a letter of recommendation:

If you remember I had major difficulties with the group of TAs of last
year: the group behaved as if its internships were the most important
jobs and only if it had time and in marginal hours, it would do its
job. I rarely got an answer from my emails, I had to send the same
email several times. The group rarely answered students’ emails and
their assignments’ questions. I asked for the group’s support to
proctor the exam, and at the beginning, nobody was willing to help.
You were more collaborative than the rest. However, I still had to
invest a significant amount of time to compensate for the complete
lack of support of the TA group. So, in these conditions is very
difficult for me to write the very positive letter that you need to
win the scholarship. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful at this
time.

All of the things he says are not valid for me.

I didn’t have internships, students sent me thank you after attending office hours and I went out of the way several times to accommodate his requests. Although, I can remember I replied him a few times the next day due to other work. He also did several things like threatening TAs for complaints which very out of the line at my University and unheard of.

Can I dispute his claims? I don’t want a letter of recommendation anymore, I feel under-appreciated for the work I put in. I feel like I should reply to him, but I feel a bit angry for

  • dealing with him with through the course for this
  • trying to go the extra mile for a future recommendation.

Background info:
The professor is not from my University and was hired to teach to a summer course.

Possible reply:
Attach a thank you email I received from one of students taking the course, and mention two times I went over the line to co-operate with him.

What he replied when I msged him asking for an LOR:

If you remember I had major difficulties with the group of TAs of last
year: the group behaved as if its internships were the most important
jobs and only if it had time and in marginal hours, it would do its
job. I rarely got an answer from my emails, I had to send the same
email several times. The group rarely answered students’ emails and
their assignments’ questions. I asked for the group’s support to
proctor the exam, and at the beginning, nobody was willing to help.
You were more collaborative than the rest. However, I still had to
invest a significant amount of time to compensate for the complete
lack of support of the TA group. So, in these conditions is very
difficult for me to write the very positive letter that you need to
win the scholarship. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful at this
time.

All of things he says are not valid for me.
– I didn’t have internships, students sent me thank you after attending office hours and I went out of the way several times to accommodate his requests. Although, I can remember I replied him a few times the next day due to other work. He also did several things like threatening TAs for complaints which very out of the line at my University and unheard of.

Can I dispute his claims? I don’t want an LOR anymore, I feel under-appreciated for the work I put in. I feel like I should reply to him, but I feel a bit angry for a. dealing with him with through the course for this b. trying to go the extra mile for a future recommendation.

Background info:
The professor is not from my University and was hired to teach to a summer course.

Possible Reply:
Attach a thank you email I received from one of students taking the course, and mention two times I went over the line to co-operate with him.

What he replied when I msged him asking for an LOR:

If you remember I had major difficulties with the group of TAs of last
year: the group behaved as if its internships were the most important
jobs and only if it had time and in marginal hours, it would do its
job. I rarely got an answer from my emails, I had to send the same
email several times. The group rarely answered students’ emails and
their assignments’ questions. I asked for the group’s support to
proctor the exam, and at the beginning, nobody was willing to help.
You were more collaborative than the rest. However, I still had to
invest a significant amount of time to compensate for the complete
lack of support of the TA group. So, in these conditions is very
difficult for me to write the very positive letter that you need to
win the scholarship. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful at this
time.

All of things he says are not valid for me.
– I didn’t have internships, students sent me thank you after attending office hours and I went out of away several times to accommodate his requests. Although I can remember I replied him a few times the next day due to other work. He also did several things like threatening TAs for complaints which very outline at my University and unheard of.

Can I dispute his claims? I don’t want an LOR anymore, I feel under-appreciated for the work I put in.

I am currently an Australian studying at ANU. I have worked as a tutor for about a year and now I am about to apply for a Ph.D. program in the states. Since the US uses TA (teaching assistant) instead of tutor (at least my institution uses this term.) When listing my teaching experience, shall I use TA or tutor as a title? Are they the same thing? I run labs or tutorials, I mark exams and assignments and so on.)