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Department of Computer Science

Teaching Support

The Department of Computer Science employs both graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants to help support our faculty and the infrastructure of the courses that we offer. 

Graduate Teaching Assistants 

The Department of Computer Science typically employs over two dozen graduate TAs each semester. We fill these positions with full-time PhD students. This employment is part of their overall support package and is considered their full-time job (the assumption is that PhDs spend approximately 20 hours/week on their own coursework and research duties, and 20 hours/week on their TA assignments). 

Information for current TAs: 

  • You can find a copy of this year’s TA handbook here.
  • A copy of this year’s TA and RA Agreement contract is coming soon.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants 

The Tufts CS department, like many CS departments across the country, has seen a significant increase in enrollments over the past five years or more. Critical to helping us keep up with this demand is an army of talented undergraduate teaching assistants. These students work on an hourly basis to grade assignments and tests, lead labs and recitations, and hold office hours. The exact breakdown of a TA’s responsibility will be worked out between the TA and the instructor for the course. We also occasionally hire Master’s students on an hourly basis to help cover the load. 

We try to make the TA experience as positive as possible, both for the students who work as TAs and for the students who take our classes. To this end, we offer COMP 05: “Teaching Computer Science” as a course meant for new undergrad TAs. It is required for new undergrad TAs who will be working for our two largest classes, COMP 11 and COMP 15. We consider this to be a good investment for the department and a professional development opportunity for our TAs. See below for more information about COMP 05. 

Information for current undergraduate TAs: 

  • You can find more information about the CS department’s policies for hourly TA workers and documentation on how to use our payroll system here.
  • You can find a copy of this year’s TA handbook here.

COMP 05: “Teaching Computer Science” 

This course is a four-part seminar taught primarily by a cohort of our most experienced undergraduate TAs. It is intended as a pre-req for TA’ing either of our two main introductory classes, COMP 11 and COMP 15. However, it can also be taken as a co-rec. Each seminar will cover a particular facet of being a successful TA. Topics include office hours, recitation leading, grading policies, and inclusivity, among others. 

How to Become an Undergraduate TA 

If you are interested in a job with us, we would love to talk with you about it! Many students approach the professor of the course that they would like to TA for, or consult with the current TAs for that course. You can also email csadmin@cs.tufts.edu with general queries about how to get started. 

We are looking for two main qualities in applicants. The first is proficiency in and a passion for the course material. This does not necessarily mean that you received straight A’s when you took the course. Students who struggled a bit on their way to mastering the material often make for outstanding TAs. Second, we are looking for applicants who can make any student feel welcome, competent, and supported. Students who communicate well with their peers during office hours and labs stand out as strong applicants. 

Each semester, students can apply to be a TA through our online system. An announcement will be posted when this system is online, which will typically be around the final third of the semester. The timeline of hiring decisions will depend on the individual courses. 

*** The TA application site is currently live and can be found here

Please be advised that if you haven’t worked for CS before, it can take us a little time to get you set up in the system. It can take longer if you’ve never worked at Tufts. And if you are an international student and you have never worked in the U.S. before, you will need to apply for a Social Security number before you can work for us. 

Feedback 

Our department has over 1,000 students, about 200 TAs, and dozens of faculty in any given semester. With so many people, there will sometimes be difficulties or conflict. The TA ombudsman is here to help mediate conflicts that arise involving TAs. Specifically, the TA ombudsperson/liaison will help with the following situations:

  • A student having a problem with a TA
  • A TA having a problem with a student
  • A TA having a problem with another TA
  • A TA having a problem with an instructor

If you are involved in or aware of such an issue, please contact the TA ombudsperson, Associate Teaching Professor Mark Sheldon, at ta-ombudsperson@cs.tufts.edu.  If you are one of Mark’s students or TAs and are not comfortable discussing the issue with him, please contact the back-up TA ombudsperson, Assistant Teaching Professor Megan Monroe at mmonroe@cs.tufts.edu.