Instructor Training: Extra Exercises


Something to Think About

Throughout the day, take note of how this training is structured. What pieces exemplify the situated learning perspective, i.e., how are you, as an instructor-in-training, being brought into a new community of practice? Are there any places where we are using the cognitivist ideas/techniques described later in the training?

Who Decides?

In Littky and Grabelle’s The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business, Kenneth Wesson wrote, “If poor inner-city children consistently outscored children from wealthy suburban homes on standardized tests, is anyone naive enough to believe that we would still insist on using these tests as indicators of success?” What are examples in your own experience of “objective” assessments that reinforce the status quo?

Mental Models

Modeling Instruction

There have been many “models” of teaching/learning in the past. What model do you currently use (sub-consciously or consciously)?

Confronting the Contradiction

Describe a misconception you have encountered in your own learning or teaching and how to get learners to confront it.

Performance and Feedback

The Two-Dimensional You

If you were a cartoon character teacher, who would you be? What does that say about your teaching style?

Feedback on Feedback

Watch either this video (8:40) or this one (11:42). Take notes about the presentation, and divide those into four groups based on whether they are positive or negative and whether they are about the content (what was said) or the presentation (how it was said, e.g., body language). Compare your notes with those made by other people, and with the feedback given by your instructor.

Feedback on Yourself, Part II

Later in the training, repeat the first challenge exercise; however, when it comes time to give feedback, use the same 2x2 scheme in the previous challenge.

Learn More About Feedback

Read Gormally et al’s “Feedback about Teaching in Higher Ed” and discuss ways you could make peer-to-peer feedback a routine part of your teaching. You may also enjoy Gawande’s “Personal Best”, which looks at the value of having a coach.

Cognitive Load

Faded Examples

Construct a 3-step faded example to introduce an idea of your choice. What problem-solving strategy does it teach?


Motivational Checklist

Compare one of the existing Data Carpentry or Software Carpentry lesson episodes to the motivational checklist presented earlier. What is the lesson doing (if anything) to engage learners and convince them its material is worth mastering?

Personal Story About Demotivation

Write a paragraph or two about something that happened in your educational career that demotivated you, and explain what could have been done afterward to fix it. After everyone has completed, draw out common demotivational themes.

What Do You Believe About Teaching? Challenge

Complete the Teaching Perspectives Inventory. Are you surprised about what it says about your view of teaching?

Thought Record

Remember a time when you felt like you didn’t know what you were doing. Describe the emotions that you felt (such as sad, anxious, scared).

Write an alternative thought that takes this evidence into account. How do you feel about this situation now?

Learning Objectives

Improving Objectives

Are the following learning objectives strong or weak? How could you improve some of the weak objectives?

Classify Learning Objectives

Choose one topic from a Data Carpentry or Software Carpentry lesson lesson and classify its learning objectives according to their level in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Develop Learning Objectives

In groups of 2-4, choose one of the following topics (or something else that you might explain to a senior high school class) and develop learning objectives for a 10-minute introductory lesson on it. Compare your learning objectives to those developed by other groups: how easy or hard would it be for an independent observer to determine whether your objectives or the other groups’ had been achieved?

Summing Up

You have been asked to interview an undergraduate who wants to work with your group for the summer. What task could you ask her to do that would tell you whether she has the technical skills the job requires? (Try to choose something that she could reasonably be expected to accomplish in under 15 minutes.) How would you describe the task to her? And how would you describe the criteria for completing it successfully?