Instructor Training, University of Cambridge

Sept 19-20, 2016

9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Instructors: Steve Crouch, Karin Lagesen

Helpers: Laurent Gatto

General Information

Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry's mission is to help scientists and engineers get more research done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic lab skills for scientific computing. This hands-on two-day workshop covers the basics of educational psychology and instructional design, and looks at how to use these ideas in both intensive workshops and regular classes.

The workshop is a mix of lectures and hands-on lessons where you practice giving a short lesson using approaches learned and implement some of the teaching techniques which we will discuss. This is training for teaching, not technical training; you do not need any particular technical background, and we will not be teaching that. This workshop is based on the constantly revised and updated curriculum.

Who: The course is aimed at everyone who is interested in becoming a better teacher. In particular, this training is aimed at those who want to become Software and Data Carpentry instructors, run workshops and contribute to the Carpentry training materials. You don't currently have to be an instructor or a teacher to attend this workshop, but you do need to be willing and committed to becoming one and to improving your teaching techniques.

Where: Bioinformatics Training Room, Craik-Marshall Building, Downing Site. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

Requirements: Participants should bring a laptop that is Internet connected and has a functioning browser. If you have it, a device for recording audio and video (mobile phones and laptops are OK) is useful as throughout the two days, we are going to record one another teaching in pairs or threes. It does not have to be high-quality, but it should be good enough that you can understand what someone is saying.

Please note that after this course is over, you will be asked to do three short follow-up exercises online in order to finish qualifying as an instructor: the details are available at If you have any questions about the workshop, the reading material, or anything else, please get in touch.

All participants are required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organisers have checked that:

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please mail for more information.


R consortium
We would like to acknowledge support from the R consortium's Infrastructure Steering Committee.


Please read the following before the workshop begins:

  1. Success in Introductory Programming: What Works?
  2. The Science of Learning

Please also read through one of the episodes below carefully, so that you can do some exercises based on it on the first day of the class.


Please see this site for course material.

Day 1

09:00 Welcome
09:10 Introduction [PDF] [PPTX]
09:40 Novices and Formative Assessment [PDF] [PPTX]
10:40 Morning Coffee
10:55 Teaching as a Performance Art
11:55 Morning Wrap-Up
12:10 Lunch
13:10 Expertise and Memory [PDF] [PPTX]
14:25 Afternoon Coffee
14:40 Performance Revised
15:25 Cognitive Load
16:05 Afternoon Wrap-Up
16:20 Finish

Day 2

09:00 Live Coding [PDF] [PPTX]
10:15 Morning Coffee
10:30 The Carpentries
11:30 Carpentry Teaching Practices
12:00 Morning Wrap-Up
12:15 Lunch
13:15 Motivation and Demotivation [PDF] [PPTX]
14:00 Lessons and Objectives [PDF] [PPTX]
15:00 Afternoon Coffee
15:15 Afternoon Wrap-Up [PDF] [PPTX]
16:00 Finish

Travel and Accommodation


Cambridge colleges

Bed & Breakfast accommodation is available at a number of Cambridge Colleges. Different rooms had different facilities and different price levels:

All Colleges are a short walk from the workshop venue at the Bioinformatics Training Room, Craik-Marshall Building, Downing Site.

We advise you to book as soon as possible if you would like to stay in college as it is very popular and rooms are limited.

Other hotels and B&B's

There are many places to stay in Cambridge. Hotels start from ~£100 per room per night. B&B’s from ~£50 per person per night. Please see: and

Workshop Location

Full details can be found at

Location: Bioinformatics Training Room, Craik-Marshall Building,
Downing Site Map
Directions: The training room is located on the first floor of the Craik-Marshall building. Parking: Visitors should be advised that only disabled parking is available on the Downing Site, and this requires prior notification. If you are travelling by car the Cambridge Park & Ride is a good option which is £2.70 for a return journey.

Getting Around

Cambridge has good rail, bus and airport connections. Full details are available on the Visit Cambridge website:

Trains: tickets can be bought in advance through National Rail or at your departure station. The workshop location is ~25 minute walk from the train station.

Buses: are operated by Stagecoach, timetables can be found at

Taxis: Panther taxis 01223 715715 or

University Map

The University in made up on many colleges spread throughout Cambridge. A good map of the university and it’s colleges is located here:

The workshop venue (The Bioinformatics Training suite) is located at the Downing Site.