About the Program
Welcome to the Section Leader Program website. This site serves as a hub for the Section Leader program. Use the links to find out more about Section Leading, information about classes with Section Leaders, lab hours for the current semester, and other Section Leader related information.
When was the program formed?
The idea of a Section Leader program is the brainchild of Senior Lecturer Stuart Reges, who started the program while he was Senior Lecturer at Stanford University. Stuart founded the program here in 1998, where it has continued to evolve and flourish.
In 2004 Suzanne Westbrook accepted the role of Faculty Advisor for the Section Leader Program. Her tenure solidified the Section Leader Program as a valued asset for facilitating the Department of Computer Science's introductory courses.
The current Faculty Advisor is Dr. Lester McCann. Since 2010 he and the Section Leader Coordinators have worked together to maintain the program's impeccable reputation and help it evolve to meet the growing needs of the University of Arizona's Department of Computer Science.
What is a Section Leader?
A Section Leader is an undergraduate who works for the University of Arizona Computer Science Department and assists in the teaching of introductory Computer Science courses -- currently CS 101, 110, 120, 210, 245 and 335. All Section Leaders have taken and excelled in the classes they work for, and therefore are very familiar and comfortable with teaching the material to new students.
What do Section Leaders do?
Section leaders have many responsibilites:
- Prepare and lead a weekly discussion section for a small group of students
to answer questions, review old material, present new content,
and provide a small classroom experience for students in a large university class
Assist the instructors in developing criteria and testing suites.
Staff Computer Science labs and hold office hours to help
students as they work on their assignments.
Interact with students, fellow Section Leaders, and University
instructors and faculty in an upbeat and professional environment.
Attend class lectures and support collaborative in-class activities.
Respond to student inquiries via email and social media (Piazza)
How is the Section Leader Program Organized?
Each of the introductory Computer Science courses at the university has a group of section leaders assigned to it to assist the students with their efforts in class. Additionally, one Section Leader per class, the head Section Leader, works closely with the instructor in organizing the Section Leaders for their class and planning course material (such as assignments and tests).
There are also two experienced Section Leaders who work as Section Leader Coordinators. They mmanage the entire group of Section Leaders across all courses. More information about the coordinators can be found at our Coordinator Page. Finally, a member of the department faculty serves as a supervisor to the program to advise and assist the coordinators in their duties.
The Section Leaders lead rich and vibrant lives outside of their scholastic environments. The Section Leader Coordinators will sometimes organize events such as coding contests, movie nights, sporting events, and other fun things. Events like these are designed to build camaraderie among all SLs, not just those who work with each other every day.
I owe my entire career to my experience as a Section Leader at Arizona. I started as a Section Leader and later became a Section Leader Coordinator. I worked with Suzanne Westbrook, Rick Mercer, and Stuart Reges, who were all excellent to work with and taught me a lot. I was even given opportunities to help teach some classes as a graduate student at U of A. My SL experience helped me get my first industry job at Microsoft and later led me to my current teaching career. I currently work as an instructor at the University of Washington. This fall I have almost 30 Section Leaders (we call 'em "TAs") of my own. It is a great joy to me to come full circle and to see the growth of the young TAs in my own courses that I am teaching. We chose to follow this model of undergrad TAs/SLs at Washington based on how successful it has been at Arizona. I feel confident saying that if I hadn't been a part of Arizona's wonderful Section Leader program back in the early 2000s, I would not be where I am today!
Lecturer, Computer Science Department
Being a part of the Section Leader program for 4.5 years was by far the highlight of my time at the University of Arizona. From the satisfaction of helping students learn material to the close interactions with the faculty, everything about my experience with the program was top notch. Section Leading provided me with countless opportunities for self-improvement. Through teaching others, I was able to cement my understanding of Computer Science topics and expand my skillset. Beyond that, the Section Leader program introduced me to a community of incredibly smart and talented people. During my time there I met quite a few people who continue to be close friends (And "close friend" is not a term I throw around lightly). The program also offers a rare experience not found at other Universities. Without Section Leading, my resume would have been identical to thousands of other graduates. I know that the reason I was targeted for recruitment by Microsoft was because of the time I spent as a Section Leader. I truly believe that participating in the Section Leader program is one of the most worthwhile activities an undergraduate can do while studying at the University of Arizona.
Software Development Engineer in Test
The Section Leader program was one of the best experiences of my college years. Not only is it a great way to meet and interact with other students but it also helps to reinforce what you are learning in your Computer Science coursework. Further, I met some of my best friends in the Section Leader program, relationships that continue today even after I have graduated. In short if you have any interest at all in the program I would very much encourage you to apply!
How Do I Join? (And other Info)
What do I need to do to become a Section Leader?
Check this website's home page towards the end of the semester to find the link to the online application for the following semester. The coordinators will also be making a presentation in each of the introductory computer science courses when applications are being accepted. If you have any questions about applying, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of the coordinators will get back to you as soon as possible.
Expectations of a Section Leader
- Demonstrate interest in helping instructors for CSc 101, 110, 120, 210, 245, or 335.
- Will have completed the introductory series (CSc 110 and 120) by the end of the semester you apply.
- Attend a one-hour meeting with your course staff to discuss the upcoming week's activities.
- Be able to attend the weekly half-hour community meeting, every Wednesday from 5 to 5:45pm
- Be able to attend a sequence of meetings (mandatory for first-semester Section Leaders) following the weekly Wednesday meeting. These typically end before 7pm.
- Be eager to help students learn Computer Science!
How many hours do Section Leaders work each week?
Here is an approximate breakdown of a typical workweek for a new Section Leader:
- 1 hour discussion section
- .5 - 1 hour preparation for section
- 2 - 3 hours grading
- .5 - 1 hour responding to emails and/or Piazza posts
- 1 - 1.5 hours attending class lectures
- 1 hour staff meeting
- 45 minute community meeting
- 2 hours at the lab answering questions from students
- 1 hour attending "teaching techniques" class
about 10 - 12 total hours (varies by week and by class)
Is this a paid position?
Yes! All section leaders are student employees and earn hourly wages for the time that they put into the program. This includes the time you spend attending lecture, grading projects and exams, and attending meetings.
The department also allows a Section Leader to earn upper-level credits in lieu of pay, up to 3 credits in a given semester. The department mandates that for each credit, a section leader must work three hours per week in order to earn that credit. For two credits, you must work six hours per week. And for three credits, you must work nine hours per week. Any hours that you work over your requirement for credits is paid back to you in hourly wages.
This option is available each semester that a Section Leader participates in the program. Credit received this way is graded on a pass/fail basis.