Continuing the discussion from Connecting with other instructors using Tidyverse / r4ds book? as well as this Twitter thread, it would be wonderful to get your thoughts and feedback as part of the broader discussion around facilitating the beginner learning experience:
I firmly believe that one of the most impactful things you can do to build foundational skills for programming beginners is to invest the time upfront in getting to know your audience. For example, the two groups that I am getting prepared to work with are:
Colleagues with no stats or programming background, who come from previous experiences where data has been used in a punitive manner (poor results collected from flawed instruments being used to place people on probation or dismiss them from their position).
Young adults aged 18 - 24 who are in need of career training, and generally do not have a high school diploma or GED, coupled with housing instability.
These are two examples from a myriad of population segments, and hopefully help to highlight how understanding more about the audience can help you tailor the learning experience and determine the necessary foundational skills to cover.
People enter programming from a wide variety of backgrounds, often with inconsistent computer skills. While capturing and cropping a screenshot may seem like second nature to you, others may not even know this technology exists. Determine which computer skills learners will need in order to be successful in your course, and provide the necessary supports to help them develop those skills.
While the application of skills is critical, there is something to be said the practice and repetition of foundational skills. There are benefits to having learners work through sets of increasingly difficult coding problems and challenges tailored to a specific topic, similar to what’s done in various Khan Academy courses.
- How are learners expected to engage with the material?
- Are the data sets used in the course meaningful and easy to relate to?
- What are the accountability and motivational measures employed?
- How readily does coursework translate to real-world applications?
In this vein, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of project based learning, and how project based learning can be applied to increasing learner engagement and success in an online learning environment centered around R and data analysis/science.