Think all teaching assistants (TAs) are graduate students? Think again! This fall, the Department of Computer Science launched an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant program, which gives their star undergraduate students the opportunity to teach their fellow undergraduates and to influence the computer science curriculum.
Tom Hogans, Christian Luke, Sanket Raval, Neel Patel, and Douglas Tait make up the first cohort in the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant program. All agree that they immediately saw the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant program as a great opportunity. “I saw it as a good way to build strong intellectual relationships with both teachers in the department and other students,” says Christian Luke, who is also considering a career in academia. “I recognized that being a teaching assistant would be a great first step towards learning the ins and outs of teaching and communicating effectively in an educational environment,” he says.”
Each teaching assistant is responsible for assisting a professor with a different course, which are as varied as Programming Fundamentals, Object-Oriented Programming, and Design and Analysis Algorithms. By working closely with faculty members and teaching their fellow students, the teaching assistants hone their public speaking skills, gain confidence, and master the subject matter. Sanket Raval, who transferred to Rutgers-Camden after studying at Burlington County College, says one of the best things about being a teaching assistant is that while he’s helping others learn, he’s also bolstering his own knowledge about the subject.
Dr. Desmond Lun, Associate Professor of Computer Science and chair of the department, calls this program “a unique leadership experience designed to give our best students a competitive edge in future applications for graduate and medical schools and jobs.” Certainly, the teaching assistants are more than pleased with the program. As Neel Patel says, “The experience has been great so far. It has gone above and beyond my expectations.”