How to Effectively Use Intro Lab TAs
Dear COS 109, 126, 226, and 217 students,
To help students get the most out of their interactions with Lab TAs, we have been working with the various course staff to clarify our guidelines. Before putting yourself on the queue, please make sure you have:
- Identified a specific problem (e.g., instead of asking “is this correct?” ask “I am concerned that this will not work with large files but I am not sure how to test that” or “I am not certain my code meets the performance requirements because it takes a long time. How can I check that?”)
- Looked for the bug yourself and thought about possible causes
- Tried debugging the problem, e.g., instrumenting your code with print statements, GDB (217), etc.
- Searched Ed for the same or similar issues
- Checked: lecture slides, precept exercises/notes, assignment checklist, etc.
A few things to remember:
- Lab TAs are here to help you with debugging. They won’t help you with design decisions. You should have code written and have identified a bug before asking for help from the Lab TAs.
- Lab TAs won’t walk you through the assignment. Broad questions about how to approach or start the assignment should be directed to course staff after thoroughly reading the assignment page and the checklist.
- Please keep in mind that your peers are also in the queue. Especially if the queue is long, TAs have limited time to spend with each person/group and may need to move on. TAs will only work with each student/group for at most 15 minutes.
- Please don’t put yourself on the queue immediately after having been helped Instead, work on your assignment yourself first, based on the help you received from a Lab TA, until you identify another bug.
- Lab TAs are human too. We will not catch every bug, nor will we always understand your code immediately. There are also new assignments that we may not be familiar with. We are here to help, and we enjoy helping you fix bugs in your programs. We ask that you please be patient and appreciative. :)
- Don’t ask Lab TAs whether a choice you’ve made will result in a point deduction. COS courses are constantly evolving. These questions should be directed to course staff, not Lab TAs, as they have the latest information.