Typical CA Duties

Grading homeworks

For most CAs, this will be their most time consuming and least rewarding responsibility; CAs should carefully streamline their grading process in order to maximize their availability for other, more rewarding, aspects of the job. Consult the CA training materials or CA Mentors for many tips on efficient grading.

Electronic communication

Monitoring email and other electronic communications (newsgroups, Piazza, …) is another important part of the job. Students should be directed to a single address, and any content-related questions and answers should be made available to the entire class. Instructors should take turns answering questions.

Holding office hours

Successful office hours come to those who are prepared. Be sure to review the assignments beforehand and give some thought to what hints are appropriate, so that you will not accidentally give away too much. It is also incredibly helpful to attend class whenever possible, as you will be aware of which topics may need review.

Assisting with the creation of exams and homework

Depending on the professor, you may be asked to help write questions for the homeworks or exams. Rely on your experiences in office hours, and remember to get feedback from the rest of the course staff in order to make questions as clear as possible. For large classes, you may wish to schedule “make-up” exams before the scheduled exam, in order to gather feedback on which questions need revising. However, primary responsibility for designing homeworks and exams should always rest with the professor (see Common Pitfalls, below).

Maintaining grades

The CAs will maintain the list of grades, and there are various ways to do it. We recommend using a simple spreadsheet accessible by the entire grading staff. This should be handled with extreme care -- both in terms of correctness and privacy -- and should be backed-up regularly.

Giving feedback to the instructor

Don’t hesitate to let the professor know what is going well with the course, as well as what could be improved. CAs typically enjoy more face-to-face contact with students than the instructor does, and can see from grading homeworks how students are doing.  Students also often feel more comfortable addressing their criticisms and concerns to the CAs; these should always be (diplomatically!) passed along to the instructor.

Administering and grading exams

The midterm and final, if any, are graded by the CAs and the instructor together. It is customary for the instructor to provide food during the session. Contact Claire Stager with any questions on ordering food for exam grading sessions.