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Instructor Training: University of Florida

January 21-22, 2016


Trainers: Tracy Teal, Greg Wilson

Helpers: Ethan White

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 hand-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 have to be currently an instructor or a teacher to attend this workshop. But you do need to be willing and committed to become one and to improve your teaching techniques.

Where: UF Informatics Institute, Computer Science and Engineering, 432 Newell Dr, Gainesville, FL 32611. 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) - 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 also read the Preparation section below. You will also receive some further information before the workshop so please check your email.

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

Contact: Please mail for more information.


Day 1

09:00 Welcome and introductions
09:30 Overview: key concepts and training goals
10:00 Formative vs. summative assessment
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Teaching as performance art
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Discussion on the exercise on teaching as performance art
14:00 Concept maps
14:30 Coffee break
15:00 Concept maps - continued
16:00 Motivation and demotivation. Diversity. Indifference.
16:45 Wrap-up
17:00 Close

Day 2

09:00 Recap and homework review
09:30 Alternative formative assessment techniques
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Live coding and active learning
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Overview of Software and Data Carpentry infrastructure
13:30 Setting up and running a workshop
14:30 Coffee break
15:00 Overview of existing materials; how to contribute
16:00 Next setps
16:45 Wrap-up
17:00 Close



  1. Please read Porter et al's Success in Introductory Programming: What Works?, Guzdial's Why Is It So Hard to Learn to Program?, and the latest draft of "Software Carpentry: Lessons Learned" (which you should have received by email).
  2. Please also pick up a copy of "How Learning Works", which is the best summary going of research in education. It is full of useful insights, and a lot of how we teach is based on the findings it reports.
  3. Finally, please go to Software Carpentry's lessons page and Data Carpentry's lesson page to see what is currently taught by each.

If you are interested in doing more reading, Huston's "Teaching What You Don't Know" is a lot of fun - many will recognize themselves in these stories. Past participants have also enjoyed "Building a Better Teacher", which is a well-written look at why educational reforms in the past 50 years have mostly failed, and about what we should be doing instead.