Foundations Curriculum Innovation Grant Program

Curricular Innovation Fellows

The Curricular Innovation Fellows (CIFs) are Columbia University graduate and postdoctoral students who work closely with the Foundations for Research Computing program during the academic year to develop a technical training curriculum. CIFs will receive a stipend to create a learning module on a particular aspect of research computing. The high priority areas for curriculum development for academic year 2019/20 are below. We will consider proposals for other curricular areas as well.

  • Visualization with Matplotlib
  • Data Analysis and Manipulation with Pandas

  • Scientific Computing with NumPy and SciPy

  • Toolkits for Machine Learning (TensorFlow, Sci-Kit-Learn, PyTorch)
  • Data Visualization in R with ggplot

  • Data Manipulation in R (tidyr, dplyr)

  • Text Analysis in R

  • Advanced Cluster Computing (with CUIT RCS)

Fellowship Overview and Expectations

Curricular Innovation Fellows will contribute approximately 30 working hours over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year. CIFs will:

  • Attend three trainings organized by Foundations for Research Computing on developing curriculum and teaching technical topics.
  • Attend a two-day training by The Carpentries to become Software Carpentry certified. By becoming Software Carpentry certified, CIFs become part of an international network of technical trainers and receive a credential recognized in fields related to technical training.
  • In January 2020, serve as a helper in a Foundations for Research Computing bootcamp.
  • Develop a two-hour curriculum module for a workshop, workshop series, half-day intensive, or full-day intensive on a technical topic.
  • Time permitting, in spring or fall 2020, lead a training based on the developed curriculum with the support of the Foundations for Research Computing program.
  • Receive a $1500 stipend in recognition of their activities and contributions on completion of the program.

After completing the fellowship, CIFs will have learned strategies for developing effective technical curricula and learned teaching strategies for technical topics. These skills are increasingly valued in academic teaching, lab settings, and industry. After the fellowship, CIFs will have demonstrated these skills by creating curriculum, leading a technical training, and by completing the Software Carpentry certification process.

Learning Objectives

What you will learn as a Curricular Innovation Fellow

  • Understand key elements for technical pedagogy design, including scoping, scaffolding, and maintaining clarity of purpose.
  • Create materials that respect the cognitive pressures faced by new learners.
  • Balance considerations such as maintainability, portability, interactivity, and accessibility when creating curriculum artifacts.
  • Develop an awareness of teaching techniques specific to technical pedagogy, such as live coding and multimodal delivery.
  • Transition smoothly among new concept acquisition, reiteration, and independent application while communicating and reinforcing challenging concepts.


What students will learn as a result of the new curriculum modules

  • Develop a mental model of computation that includes fundamental limitations such as time, memory, and file input and output.
  • Write in code idiomatic to the chosen language or paradigm.
  • Build domain-appropriate abstractions using functions, libraries, classes, and language-specific data structures.
  • Apply best practices in software development, such as test driven development, continuous integration, and version control.
  • Align code semantics and function, creating software that is accessible to both humans and machines.
  • Read, understand, and appreciate code written by others.
  • Choose languages, approaches, and technologies appropriate to a problem domain by performing research and evaluating tradeoffs.

How to apply

A call for applications for the inaugural cohort Curricular Innovation Fellows will go out in September. Applications for 2019-20 will be reviewed and approved starting October 15. We will close the application period when we have enough CIFs to cover anticipated needs for the academic year.