Course Syllabus

Course Information

Prof. Armando Fox (email: fox [at]

TA Victor Huang (email: vhuang [at]

Lecture-Discussion: Fridays 10AM-12PM PT

Discussion Slides Folder:

2 units: 2-hour weekly lecture-discussion section

Open to all graduate students. This course has also been approved for the UC Berkeley Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Course Summary

This course provides skills for graduate student instructors (GSIs) from any department to hold discussion and practice of techniques for effective teaching, focusing on issues most relevant to teaching assistants in computer science courses. Topics include: understanding the basic roles and responsibilities of GSIs at UC Berkeley, basic pedagogical theory, creating formative and summative assessments, harnessing peer learning, developing curriculum encouraging student-engaged learning, encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion in the education space, and online facilitation.

Course Learning Goals

This course aims to provide GSIs and uGSIs the foundational knowledge to effectively lead classroom instruction. After completion of this course, GSIs will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic roles and responsibilities of TAs at UCB and how one should use these to discuss expectations with the professor.
  2. Recognize basic concept vocabulary around pedagogy, and provide/construct examples of these concepts (as much as is applicable) in your course, including:  constructivism; social constructivism; metacognitive awareness; formative and summative assessment; peer learning; learning gain; the testing effect; transfer learning.
  3. Develop, describe, and implement a discussion section activity to support student-centric learning.
  4. Describe at least 3 ways to “find out what students don’t know” (e.g., for guiding discussion section or lecture planning).
  5. Describe a specific lecture/discussion activity or homework assignment for a computing course that engages students in metacognitive assessment.
  6. Create a rubric to support the efficient and replicable grading of a homework assignment or exam question.
  7. Write lecture-level learning goals for a course that are clear and assessable.
  8. Observe and critique someone else’s lecture with regard to student learning.
  9. Put into practice core boardwork, organizational, and speaking practices to support effective explanations of computing topics.
  10. Put into practice at least 2 techniques for engaging students in discussion section.

Course Expectations and Grading

This course will be graded on a Pass/No-Pass basis. Focus will be placed on interactive in-class activities. There will be a few homework assignments to reinforce concepts learned in class, including self-reflections, readings, and attending a colleague’s section.

GSIs must attend all sections (and are allowed 2 unexcused absences) and complete 75% of outside-class activities to receive credit for this course.

Course Calendar

  1. Intro and Course Overview (8/27)
  2. Leading Successful Discussion Sections (9/3)
  3. Diversity, Climate, and Bias (9/10)
  4. Being Comfortable "On Stage" (9/17)
  5. Reflecting on Teaching Performance and Experiences (9/24)
  6. Creating and Grading Quizzes and Exams (10/1)
  7. Team Projects (10/8)
  8. Online Facilitation (10/15)
  9. Adaptive Equity Oriented Pedagogy (10/22)
  10. Enhancing Motivation and Accommodating Learning Styles (10/29)

Course Summary:

Date Details Due