Intro COS Lab

Peer Tutoring Guidelines for COS 126, 226 & 217

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Last revised: October 3, 2022, originally from here.

  1. Congratulations on becoming a peer tutor! Please confirm that you understand these guidelines before you start tutoring by completing this affirmation form.

  2. As a peer tutor, you have permission to look at the code of the person you are tutoring. It’s important, however, that you avoid looking at your own solutions while tutoring.  That could inadvertently influence you to guide your student to a solution that would be so close to your old code that it would be flagged by the plagiarism software.

  3. We try to help the students help themselves when it comes time to write and debug their code by:

    • answering a question with a leading question,
    • giving hints rather than direct answers,
    • pointing them to a particular paragraph in the assignment instructions or checklist or in the book,
    • explaining an important concept.
  4. As a peer tutor, you should have a hands in pockets approach to helping students (much as the undergraduate lab TAs do).

  5. You are not permitted to type on a student’s computer.

  6. You should never dictate code to a student when helping with an assignment.

  7. Avoid jumping right into the assignment:

    • COS 126: There are precept exercises with partially completed code to use for practice.  There are also recommended book and booksite exercises.  These are carefully picked to be do-able in a relatively short period of time, and to reinforce concepts covered in lecture, precept and/or needed for the assignments.  You can give students more explicit coding help when doing these practice exercises and programs

    • COS 226: Use previous exam questions or the exercises at the end of each book chapter to assess the student’s level of understanding if they ask to review a specific topic. You may give students more explicit help when doing these exercises.

    • COS 217: Instead work simpler programming exercises from the course’s precepts or textbooks. The precept programs are often chosen for their similarity to what the student will have to do on the assignments; and the textbook exercises are good focused practice on a particular language feature or skill. You can give students more explicit coding help when doing these.

  8. Remind students that they must indicate on their assignment that they received help from you.

  9. The point of tutoring is to try to encourage students to become independent. If after a few sessions you believe students are unable to solve problems independently, for example, having to still guide them to declare every variable, please contact the course staff.  For Spring 2023:

If you have any general questions, please contact Matthew Lazen, Assistant Dean of Butler College and peer tutoring coordinator at  For specific COS questions, contact the contacts for each course above.

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