FAQs

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Why am I still being charged tuition?

The CS department hires over 150 CAs each quarter, and it takes some time to enter everyone's appointments into the system. You probably won't see your tuition credit appear on your bill until the first or second week of class. 

When do I get paid?

For the 2016-17 school year, paydates are as follows: 

  • Autumn Quarter Paydates: October 22, November 7, November 22, December 7, December 22, January 7
  • Winter Quarter Paydates: January 22, February 7, February 22, March 7, March 22, April 7
  • Spring Quarter Paydates: April 22, May 7, May 22, June 7, June 22, July 7
  • Summer Quarter Paydates: July 22, August 7, August 22, September 7

Where can I borrow textbooks for my course?

There is a small library of CS textbooks located in Claire Stager's office (Gates 182) which are available for borrowing by TAs. Texts are to be returned at the end of the quarter.

Make sure to borrow the textbook for the class if you don't have it. If it is not in the library, the department will probably buy a copy for you.

Should I attend classes?

It is up to the instructor to decide whether you should attend the classes or not. If you attend classes, you will be better in sync with the class, you will be able to develop your own perspective on the material. Last but not least, the time after class is perfect to meet the students and let them know that you exist. They might even be lured into coming to your office hours.

When should I set my office hours?

If the class is offered to SCPD students, one CA should have an office hour sometime after 6pm, so that SCPD students can come by after work.

Whether we like it or not, students tend to do their homework at the last minute. If you set an office hour the day before the homework is due, around 4pm, chances are that you will have a very busy time.

Another opinion: Setting office hours right before due date is convenient for those who procrastinate. However, it also encourages procrastination. There are a couple good reasons for having office hours a little in advance of due dates:

  • It doesn't reward procrastination. Why shouldn't part of education be about discipline and time-management?
  • It recognizes the fact that assignments aren't always flawless. If people need to start looking at the homework well in advance of the due date in order to see what questions they might have for office hours, this provides time for the CAs to correct or disambiguate the assignment, and reduces everyone's stress level. Every try doing damage control on a flawed assignment at the last moment? :)

Should I prepare homeworks?

A teaching assistant should not prepare homeworks, except in exceptional cases. A homework has to be very well thought out to be in synchronization with the class, and it is also extremely hard and lengthy to design good homeworks. Bad homeworks make students bored with the material and don't make them learn anything.

If the instructor asks you whether you would like to design the homeworks, think very carefully about it, and whether you are up to the job. In all cases, you should not feel obliged to accept, as this is an integral part of the normal instructor work. It is better not to take this responsibility, but to give occasional ideas for good homework questions.

Should I prepare solutions?

Yes, if the instructor doesn't have them already. It is a good idea to prepare solutions in the light of the errors you saw the most often made while grading. At the end of a solution, you may list typical mistakes and the reason why these are mistakes, so that students learn by the mistakes made by others (you will at the same time reduce the number of requests for regradings).

How to use the copy machine?

You should ask Steven Magness (magness@cs.stanford.edu) for the copy code that is to be used for the class. This code works on all copy machines in the Gates building. For big copy jobs, it is recommended to use the fastest machine (Gates 169).  For help with the copy machine, see Steven Magness (Gates 187) or Hector Gamez (Gates 176). If you notice we're running low on paper, please tell Hector Gamez (Gates 176).

Can we get one more CA for the class?

There is a standard formula for computing the number of CAs assigned to a class (see the TA assignment policy). Make sure that you have the alloted number of VAs for your class. Often, it is necessary to wait until the first homework is turned in to get an exact count of the number of students in the class, before requesting an additional CA.