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Teaching Assistant Task Description

This document describes the tasks of a teaching assistant (TA) during the semester. It is intended as a checklist for the TA so that all actions can be assured to happen on time and properly.

TA's tasks in particular encompasses

  • keeping the IT infrastructure humming (teaching/tutorial machines!)
  • grading (assistance), including communicating results to students and archival
  • hold tutorials

Besides there are additional specific guidelines for Database and Web Applications and Advanced CS II (Software Engineering) lecture and lab.

Should you have to prepare slides then make use of the standard PPT template (which you can and should adapt with your name, of course).

When To Do What

  • Two Weeks Before Semester Start
    • determine machine to be used (CLAMV; contact: Achim GELESSUS)
    • Check installation of tools needed:
      • editors: vim, emacs (incl. syntax highlighting)
    • check CSLH if needed for tutorials, familiarize yourself
    • familiarize with slides
    • read the official TA guidelines
  • Semester Startup
    • be present at least with 1st lecture so that students know you
    • within first semester week: grab all student names and put them into spreadsheet (alphabetically by last name)
    • based on this list, check student logins on the exercise machine
    • within first two weeks: arrange for tutorial slots
    • re-check student list after end of drop/add phase
  • During Semester
    • act as first contact point for students (quiz grading, homework questions, lecture questions)
    • keep lecturer informed about feedback, issues, goings-on
    • try actively to obtain feedback from students about problems and issues; seek discussion and casual talk!
  • Semester End
    • after all (grading etc.) is done, have a debriefing with the lecturer


There are several kinds of exams, at the discretion of the lecturer individually for each course/lab. The course details will tell you what applies, here some general rules for each type of test.

In all cases your task includes search for cheating attempts, using the methods agreed upon in the intro briefing.


Quizzes are held weekly; they usually consist of multiple-choice and fill-in questions.

  • communicate grades within 5 days after quiz


Homeworks are announced via the course web site and have to be prepared until some fixed date.

  • before submission deadline: assist in questions that may arise, however make sure you do not provide the solution upfront; if in doubt contact the instructor
  • until submission deadline: accept submissions by mail and collect
  • after submission deadline: accept submissions by mail if late submission has been accepted by the instructor; note the delay for possible grade adjustments
  • normally within 3 days, but absolutely no later than one week after submission deadline: return grades to students

Midterm and Final Exams

There are written midterm and final exams. The midterm date will be arranged within the first lectures.

  • two weeks before midterm exam:
    check midterm exam in advance for correctness, maybe vary tasks, update embedded master solutions; deliver document to lecturer
  • two weeks before final exam:
    check final exam in advance for correctness, maybe vary tasks, update embedded master solutions; deliver document to lecturer
  • within 2 days after exam:
    meet lecturer for arranging grading (usually will be done in team); use master solutions for grading


  • mind you: grades are not a gift, and good grades are not a right. Instead, they must reflect achievements and allow to differentiate between good and bad results -- be fair, but strict and rigorous! You will have to justify the points granted against the lecturer.
  • actively have an eye on cheating attempts (cross check submissions) and report them immediately to the lecturer.
  • be absolutely strict with deadlines
  • you are not allowed to make concessions - if a student presses you too hard and you seem you can't "escape" his/her arguments, refer them to the lecturer
  • during grading make remarks that justify and explain the points you give (you may also give hints to the students that are not grading relevant)
  • always use red or green ballpen etc. for grading paperwork, never use a pencil for grading
  • all student results (paper, electronic documents, code, ...) must be archived for legal purposes; to this end, provide this material to the lecturer in an ordered manner immediately when the grading is done

Communicating Grades To Students

  • update course spreadsheet, send to lecturer
  • send mail to each student individually, cc to lecturer
  • archive submissions (documents, software) and graded submissions (best: annotated PDF for documents)

...so much about regulations. And now let's enjoy collaboration!

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