As I mentioned earlier, I’m leading a section for Stanford CS106A: Code in Place. This post relates to the notes and thoughts garnered during the small group training session1.



Redacted. Did not use breakout meetings due to privacy issues.

Engagement and Participation

  • Some people were more active (skewed responses)
  • Some of the more rudimentary questions might have been suppressed

Highlighted Moments

  • Covering multiple perspectives
  • Different mental models

Challenges and Transformations

  • Technical debt was an issue
  • Lack of engagement
  • Went on for too long

For me in particular:

It took over two hours, and though most people stayed on, not everyone was engaged.


These are to be dealt with as per the guidelines here. Since different groups covered different scenarios, not all of these have answers here.

Ensuring Engagement

You have some students who didn’t participate at all in the section. What do you do?

Effective Communication

What might not be effective about the policy, “Students should just tell me if I say something that offends them”?

Sharing Experiences

You just finished your section and are staying behind to answer questions from your students. A couple students asked what it’s like studying/working in an engineering/tech field.

What things might you want to keep in mind when answering their questions?

Time Management

Section went way over time due to lots of questions being asked by students. What are some time management strategies you can use moving forward?

Homework Assists

A sectionee posts in your Ed group, “I am a little bit frustrated because I don’t really know where to start on the first assignment. A little hint would be very helpful.” How do you respond?


A sectionee shows you the following buggy code for printing all the elements in a list:

my_lst = [‘apple’, ‘banana’, ‘carrot’] i = 0 while len(my_lst) > 0: print(my_lst[i]) i = i + 1

They explain that the code works (it prints all the elements in the right order) but then throws a weird error: “IndexError: list index out of range.” How would you help them find their bug?


You have a student who is already discouraged by how difficult the first assignment is and has told you they don’t feel cut out for CS. What do you say to them?

  1. Provide encouragement
  2. Give examples of hardship faced
  3. Be positive and make sure they don’t feel worse, even if they do follow through and quit
  4. “You’re not the first”
  5. Takes a lot of time. Doesn’t happen overnight
  6. Ask them why they don’t feel cut out and try to solve that problem

Looking up issues

Why might it be problematic to say something like, “It’s easy to download X or look up the answer to Y”? Why might those statements not be true?

  1. Difficulty in backgrounds (language barriers)
  2. They might not be able to understand until they learn more CS
  3. They might not know where to look online (lack of domain expertise)
  4. Dependencies (for downloads)
  5. Makes them feel bad if they don’t end up finding it easy

  1. This post was created on the day of training, 21-04-20, but will be posted later ↩︎