Department of Computing : First Year UTA HomePage

2012 - 2013 Session

UTAs - PPT Helper FAQ

What does being a PPT UTA involve?

As a UTA PPT you will be helping a group of (between 6 and 8) students with their PPT exercises. The role involves marking the students PPT exercises each week and helping to run the weekly PPT meeting. You will need to enter the student attendance at PPT meetings and student marks into CATE.

What courses does the PPT system support?

The PPT is a part of the Integrated Laboratory Course. This supports the material taught in the various firstyear programming courses. These include programming in Haskell, introductory Java, Pentium Assembler, Object Oriented Java and SQL Database Queries.

These courses involve a significant part of a firstyear students timetable and are central to the understanding of Computer Science.

Can I get course notes for above courses?

You can get these from CATE by navigating to the 1st Year timetable, and selecting the appropriate notes section for each course.

How do I get the material needed for the PPT role?

You can get a timetable of submitted PPT exercises from CATE. The exercises and sample solutions will also be available to you to download from CATE (through the G[iven files] button).

You will be able to access the student submissions on the Tuesday morning after they are submitted. Precise details on how this will work will be explain when they are confirmed. You will need to print out, mark and most importantly, comment them ready for returning to the students at the next PPT meeting.

When and where are the PPT meetings?

The PPT meetings take place once a week usually in the PPT's office at a mutually convenient time arranged between the PPT, UTA and PPT students. You should fix this at the first PPT meeting in the first week of term. The meeting takes an up a one hour slot (50 minutes) and attendance is compulsory. As well as the students both the PPT and UTA should attend. At the meeting a register is kept and entered into CATE.

How are PPT meetings run?

The previous lab exercise should be marked and commented and returned to the students at the beginning of the PPT meeting. You will probably discuss the students' submissions and any points arising from the marking before continuing to the current programming exercise. You can also discuss general programming issues and queries. The rest of the PPT meeting should be spent on the current lab exercise. There are a number of different ways of conducting a PPT meeting and you will need to discuss how the PPT meeting is going to be run with your PPT beforehand.

What is my role at the PPT meeting?

You will need to discuss your role with the PPT before the meeting but eventually you will be expected to take the leading role in running the meeting. This will involve giving students feedback on their previous work and presenting the current exercise. When you give feedback you should consider both the need to correct student error and to motivate the students to work hard. Hence all criticism needs to be tempered with encouragement.

There are a number of possible ways of presenting the current exercise. You may wish to talk through the lab spec describing the various parts of the problem or you may wish to talk about the design of the program in a more general way. You also may wish to have a more general discussion about the principles of programming. The actual design of the meeting is between you and your PPT but the purpose is to get the PPT students to participate in discussion and reflect on how they are going to design and write their programs. You will see your students develop as programmers and this should give you satisfaction and give you feedback about the process of running a PPT meeting.

Why is it so important to record marks and attendance?

It is important that students get their marked and commented lab submissions back a few days after they have completed them so that the feedback can be clearly understood. It is also important that we can track the progress of the students so that any student who is falling behind can be helped. The Senior Tutor follows student progress via CATE and this is why it is important that the information it contains is as up to date as possible.

How do I record marks and attendance?

One of your duties is to record attendance at PPT meetings and student marks using CATE. To do this you should first load the CATE page containing the timetable for the term and year group in your PPT group. In the row with the lab exercises You enter the marks by clicking the H button for the exercise. CATE will automatically generate a form that allows you to input the marks. For the attendance you click the A button on the left hand side of the row for the lab course.

What should I do if a student misses a PPT meeting?

Students are expected to attend all PPT meetings. If a student misses a single PPT meeting they should be sent an email and asked to provide a reason. It should be explained that they are expected to attend all PPT meetings. If a student misses several PPT meetings you should email the First Year Lab Organiser (Tristan Allwood) and the Senior Tutor.

Missed submissions are taken very seriously as we expect students to take the learning of practical programming skills seriously. We also expect them to take responsibility for organising their time so that they are able to submit every lab exercise.

What if a student is falling behind?

You should use your role as PPT helper to encourage and advise students if they need to do more work if they are to pass the online tests. There are other ways the students can get help. If they are falling behind you should make sure that they are attending lectures, tutorials, lab sessions etc.

When do the online tests take place?

The Practice and Driving Tests (which give the students practice for the Final Lab Tests take place in weeks five and seven of the autumn term for Haskell, and in week 11 for introductory Java. The Java O-O Driving Test takes place in week 11 of the spring term.

The Final Lab Tests take place in week one of the spring term for Haskell and on the first day of exams (first week of summer term) for O-O Java.

The Final Lab Tests assess the programming skills acquired by the students in the course of attending lectures, tutorials, labs, PPT meetings etc. They measure a students ability as a programmer. The students have to pass the Final Lab Tests to continue to the second year.

Students who fail the Java driving test have to attend additional problem solving classes in the spring term. After this they will hopefully pass the Java Final Lab test.

During the summer term there is also a C course with a Lexis test in week 7, however the PPT/PMT/UTA scheme does not run during the summer term.

How do I make a claim for payment?

You should use the TSC system as described in the UTA introductory page.