While it might seem like teaching data science is a new activity, educational professionals have studied teaching techniques for decades. Today’s teaching techniques are based not only on the personal experiences of classroom teachers, but also on neuroscience and cognitive psychology. While we can’t replicate the thoroughness of the National Academies’s How People Learn, we can recommend a couple of starting points for learning how to teach technology:
Read Teaching Tech Together. RStudio’s Greg Wilson penned (actually, he typed it) this book based on his work for the Carpentries, and it will help you create and deliver lessons that work for technical and non-technical audiences alike and to build a teaching community around them. Greg also created a free online webinar titled What Every Data Scientist Should Know About Education. This one-hour introduction presents a handful of evidence-based practices you can use right now, explains why we believe they are true, and points you at other resources that will help you go further.
Get involved in the Carpentries, a volunteer organization that teaches foundational coding and data science skills to researchers worldwide (they’ve even run a workshop in Antarctica). Their lessons on data wrangling, programming, and for librarians are all open access and classroom-tested.
Become a certified trainer. In 2019, RStudio has launched an instructor training and certification program that aims to help people apply modern evidence-based teaching practices to teach data science using R and RStudio’s products, and to help people who need such training find the trainers they need. You can meet our Certified Trainers and find out more about the program and the application process here, and access our Instructor Training Materials here.
Connect with the #rstats education community. The RStudio Community is a warm and welcoming online discussion forum to ask (and answer!) any questions about using R. But you may not know that the site has a dedicated category for all things related to teaching. There, you’ll find lively discussions between first-time instructors and seasoned educators about topics like how to introduce functions in R, ideas for datasets to use, or how to pronounce an R package name. To meet other R educators in person, we host a yearly
rstudio::confthat always features talks about teaching; you can browse past videos of talks in this track here. If you do attend our conference, keep an eye on Community before you go for announcements about the Birds of a Feather meetup for educators — this is an informal get together of like-minded R educators to talk shop and connect in person while you’re all in the same place at the same time.