Study Halls

Study Halls (SH) in Gov 1005 and 1006 are run by Course Assistants (CAs), undergraduates who have taken the class in the past. They are one of the most popular parts of these courses.


At every SH, the CA will ensure that everyone knows everyone else’s name. These classes are communities and community begins with names. The process starts with the first student arriving and sitting at the table. They and the CA chat. (It is always nice for the student to take the initiative and introduce themselves to the CA. Remembering all your names is hard!) A second person arrives and sits at the same table, followed by introductions. Persons 3 and 4 arrive. More introductions. Help your CA by introducing yourself, even if you are 90% sure they remember your name. Be friendly!

At this point, the table is filled. Another person arrives. Instead of that person starting a new table, CA gives the new student their spot and moves their belongings to a new table. No student ever sits alone. The CA hovers around the table until more students arrive and start filling out table #2. And so on. At each stage, students are responsible for, at a minimum, introducing themselves to the CA and, even better, to the other students. Best is when students who are already present shower newly arriving students with welcomes and introductions.

Help Us Help You

The CA will, to the greatest extent possible, never just give you the answer. Something like “Use annotate()” might solve your immediate problem, but it does not set you up for success during the exams — when we won’t be around to serve as your personal oRacles — much less for the rest of your life. Instead, we will take the time to show you how to find the answer yourself. We then explain the best way to make use of what you find. We won’t say: “Just use starts_width().” Instead, we will ask, “Have you read Section 5.4 of R4DS, involving the use of select()?” Yes, this will require an extra five minutes of your time. But every extra minute you spend reading a high quality reference is a minute well-spent.

We also help you learn how to seek help from others. There is a good way to ask for help on Piazza or Stack Overflow — generally involving the use of a reproducible example which highlights your precise problem — and a bad way.

Only if none of this works will we just tell you the answer.

David Kane
Data Scientist
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