Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Feedback on Practicum Proposal

We have wanted for some time to give newly-trained instructors more experience with workshop materials and our teaching methods before sending them into the field. The mentoring committee and other community members have now created a proposal for doing this, and would like to test it out early in 2016 with participants in the two training session that ran this fall. We have therefore created a short questionnaire to find out whether our plan is feasible and takes us in the right direction.

In brief, trainees will be put into groups of 3-4 people and matched with a mentor. Each group will then work through the core lesson materials for Software or Data Carpentry over four weeks (depending on which they plan to teach). Each group will meet weekly with their mentor, who will guide them though the lesson and answer questions on it.

After the four weeks, each trainee will prepare a one-hour lesson, find a local audience such as their lab group or other colleagues, and teach them the lesson. The mentor will help trainee figure out how to present the material, then observe the trainee's teaching (either live or recorded) and give her feedback.

The mentoring program will take 5-8 weeks depending on how quickly each group moves. We expect trainees to spend 3-5 hours/week working on the lessons and 1-2 hours/week preparing and teaching their lesson.

The mentors are obviously crucial to this process, so we are looking for instructors who have taught at least three times to fill this role. Each mentor will be matched with two groups of trainees (depending on time zones and similar factors) Mentors will be given extra training before and during this program on subjects like giving feedback. Mentoring guides for each lesson will also be developed to help guide discussion with groups.

We expect each mentor to spend 1-3 hours/week. All instructors that participate as mentors will be recognized on the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry web sites. It will also count as teaching a workshop, which makes this a good way of participating in the Carpentry community for those who find traveling difficult.

This proposal is a change that we think will help new instructors. We also think that it will give existing instructors new ways to learn more about teaching, and about our lessons. However, we need your help to make it work, so please take three minutes to answer the questionnaire.

The proposal in its entirety is available here along with comments.

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