Data 8 Course Staff Structure


Data 8 has three hours of lecture a week with a two hour weekly lab section, 12 weekly lab and homework assignments each, and three larger projects. These are reflected in the course resource allocation diagram below. Weekly lab sections have a ratio of 27 students to one graduate student instructor and allow students to make personal connections with instructors in a large course. With large enrollment numbers, UC Berkeley had to address how to make class sizes in the thousands feel small.

Course Staff Graphic

The answer is reflected in Data 8’s support resource strategy in the figure above. While the lecture halls seat hundreds, the teaching staff create a personal experience for students in the course by:

  • Hosting over 25 weekly office hours for one-on-one help staffed by anywhere between 2 and 10+ people an hour (with 2 separate professor office hours)

  • Hosting weekly small group tutoring sessions (5 students and 1 tutor), and tailored exam review lectures.

In the past, Data 8 course have also hosted:

  • Guerilla sections: Optional small topical worksheet-based review sessions offered by tutors once major course topics are covered.

  • Project ”parties”: Allows students to work in the same room and ask staff members questions close to deadlines.

With this wide array of support resources, students in a 1500-person computing course can connect with their individual staff members.

The scale of staffing for these support resources is only possible through the enthusiasm of former students in the class. An undergraduate who has performed well in Data 8 and enjoys the course material can join the course staff as an academic intern (AI). Academic interns assist teaching assistants (TAs) by answering student questions in a weekly lab section for 1 academic Pass/No Pass unit - an end of semester reflection on their experience is also required for credit. Undergraduates who prove to be engaged and talented academic interns are then selected to be tutors for the class.

Tutors assist with grading written responses on assignments, holding office hours, and conducting small group tutoring sections. Experienced tutors can eventually advance to positions as Undergraduate Student Instructors (uGSIs), holding a weekly lab section and helping out with various pedagogical and logistical aspects of running the course. This hierarchical course staff structure is enabled by the careful leadership of Head GSIs and course instructors.

You can read more about the Roles and Responsibilities here.