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Minion TA 

- A teaching assistant system that benefits both students & TAs

October- December, 2013

The Computer Science department at Carnegie Mellon University was having problem of effectively managing and hiring qualified teaching assistants (TA). We collected data by interviewing TAs in person, analyzed and interpret the data into models to find out breakdowns and problems existed in their current teaching environment. 


This is a course project of User-Centered Research and Evaluation at Carnegie Mellon University.

Teammates: Wang Liang, ShuangShuang Li, Stephen Oney, Pavel Samsonov 

My Role: UX Reseacher

Contribution: UX research

Process: Observation | Interview | Affinity Diagramming | Model Consolidation | Visioning | Presentation to Clients

This is the first phase for this project. Each of us conducted observations and interviews with a teaching assistant at Computer Science department. Together we generated 200+ notes and synthesized them in a consolidated form. 

Observations & Interviews

After gathering the first-hand data about the teaching conditions for the TAs, we interpreted the data and built 5 flow and 4 sequence models to see the key touchpoints of their interactions with students and the current workflow during the office hours.


To consolidate all the date we found, we built affinity diagrams, consolidated flow and sequence models. By doing this, we got to see the breakdowns and problems in a clear way.

Model Consolidation

We generated 5 visions based on the problems we found during the previous observations. After a group discussion, we picked the most promising one and start developing a storyboard to illustrate our design idea. 


Our solution, Minion TA, is a system that enables more efficient problem-solving process for TAs and students. We illustrated our solution by developing a series of scenario storyboards.



Sometimes, it takes 1 hour of waiting to get a question answered...


Now, students can just post their questions on our system.


In about 5~10 minutes, student will receive answers for his question.


Sometimes, pittsburgh’s winter is just
too harsh… no one wants to go to
the office hours!


Minion TAs (good students from previous years) work on answering those questions. 


After discussions with that minion TA, student can choose “accept” if he gets satisfied with the answer. 


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