Instructor Training - Virginia Tech/NIST

Apr 24 & 26, 2017


Instructors: Christina Koch, Tim Dennis

Helpers: TBD

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.


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.


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

Day 1 09:00 Welcome
09:10 Introduction
09:40 Teaching as a Performance Art
10:40 Morning Coffee
10:55 Novices and Formative Assessment
11:55 Morning Wrap-Up
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Expertise and Memory
14:15 Afternoon Coffee
14:30 Performance Revised
15:15 Cognitive Load
15:55 Afternoon Wrap-Up
16:10 Finish

Day 2

Day 2 09:00 Live Coding
10:15 Morning Coffee
10:30 Carpentry Teaching Practices
11:00 Motivation and Demotivation
12:00 Morning Wrap-Up
12:05 Lunch
13:05 Lessons and Objectives
13:50 More Live Coding
15:00 Afternoon Coffee
15:15 The Carpentries
15:45 Afternoon Wrap-Up
16:30 Finish