SCI's Melinda McDaniel, mary Hudachek-Buswell, and Olufisayo Omojokun speak at SIGCSE 2023 on TA programs.

SCI to Present Innovative Approaches to TA Programs, CS Education

Computer science (CS) educators are continuously challenged to adapt to the needs of a growing student body. From implementing new techniques in the classroom to building strong teaching assistant (TA) programs, Georgia Tech’s School of Computing Instruction (SCI) is at the forefront of improving CS education at scale.

SCI is presenting a series of innovative approaches and discoveries in CS education at next week’s SIGCSE conference. 

An ongoing discussion about TA programs will be a highlight of SIGCSE. This ‘Birds of a Feather’ talk will be held on March 21 and feature SCI Chair Olufisayo Omojokun, Associate Chair Mary Hudachek-Buswell, and Senior Lecturer Melinda McDaniel.

After building a successful undergraduate TA program at Georgia Tech, the SCI team’s goal is to continue improving while helping other institutions establish or advance their programs.

“Most CS departments struggle with finding, hiring, and training large numbers of undergraduate TAs to help keep up with increasing enrollments. SCI does a great job, but there's always room for improvement,” Omojokun said. 

“Creating and chairing the session will allow Mary, Melinda, and me to share our best practices while also hopefully getting new perspectives from other departments with sizeable TA programs.”

SCI faculty members teach all 1000- and 2000- courses required for all Georgia Tech undergraduates and several upper-level courses. They manage about 500 TAs per semester and are leading discussions at SIGCSE on lessons learned.

SCI hosts talk on TA programs at SIGCSE 2023.
SCI hosts talk on TA programs at SIGCSE 2023. Photos by College of Computing.

At last year’s SIGCSE conference, dozens of participants asked questions about starting and maintaining TA programs at their institutions. At the talk, the team asked almost 100 attendees what their biggest questions were surrounding TA programs. The participants shared their successes and challenges within their schools.

Another set of SCI's challenges comes from running a design capstone program at scale.  

In Omojokun’s second session, which he'll be chairing with Kellyann Fitzpatrick, will address a wide range of issues - from sourcing high-quality projects to handling intellectual property agreements between clients and students. 

Students present at the Junior Design Capstone Expo. Omojokun and Fitzpatrick will speak about the program at SIGCSE. Photo by Kevin Beasley/ College of Computing
Students present at the Junior Design Capstone Expo. Omojokun and Fitzpatrick will speak about the program at SIGCSE. Photo by Terence Rushin/ College of Computing.

“Every semester, a new set of questions pop ups, so we hope to establish this session as a recurring offering at SIGCSE, just like our TA-focused session,” Omojokun said. 

This ‘Birds of a Feather’ talk will be held on Thursday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. in Room D136.

Additionally, SCI faculty will present on other topics aimed at enhancing CS education:

Creative Labs in a CS1 Course: SCI Senior Lecturer Melinda McDaniel will discuss how self-directed labs can enhance inclusivity in CS learning. This lightning talk will be held on Thursday, March 21 at 3:55 p.m. in Room B115-116.

Active Learning at Large-Scale: Using Video Tutorials to Learn by Teaching - Pedro Guillermo Feijóo-García and Nimisha Roy will present on using video tutorials for active learning. This will be held Friday, March 22 at 10:55 a.m. in Room B115-116.

Teaching Track Faculty in Computer Science - Laney Strange (Northeastern University), Olga Glebova (University of Connecticut) SCI Senior Lecturer Melinda McDaniel (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Chris Gregg (Stanford University) will lead a discussion on the experience of teaching track faculty. This will be held on Friday, March 22 at 12:45 p.m. in Ballroom 252.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is hosting SIGCSE 2024 in Portland, Oregon this year. The annual event is a platform for educators to discuss computing programs and teaching at all levels of instruction. 

Visit here for more information about the College of Computing’s participation in the event.