Lesson Title

Instructor’s Guide


Leave about 30 minutes at the start of each workshop and another 15 mins at the start of each sesson for technical difficulties like WiFi and installing things (even if you asked students to install in advance, longer if not).

Pulling in data

The easiest way to get the data used in this lesson during a bootcamp is to have attendees run the following:

git remote add data https://github.com/resbaz/r-novice-gapminder-files
git pull data master

If Git is not being taught as part of the workshop the raw data can be downloaded from the folloing urls: gapminder-FiveYearData gapminder-FiveYearData-Wide

attendees can use the File - Save As dialog in their browser to save the file.


Make sure to emphasise good practices: put code in scripts, and make sure they’re version controlled. Encourage students to create script files for challenges.

If you’re working in a cloud environment, get them to upload the gapminder data after the second lesson.

Make sure to emphasise that matrices are vectors underneath the hood and data frames are lists underneath the hood: this will explain a lot of the esoteric behaviour encountered in basic operations.

Vector recycling and function stacks are probably best explained with diagrams on a whiteboard.

Be sure to actually go through examples of an R help page: help files can be intimidating at first, but knowing how to read them is tremendously useful.

Be sure to show the CRAN task views, look at one of the topics.

There’s a lot of content: move quickly through the earlier lessons. Their extensiveness is mostly for purposes of learning by osmosis: so that their memory will trigger later when they encouter a problem or some esoteric behaviour.

Key lessons to take time on:

  • Data subsetting - conceptually difficult for novices
  • Functions - learners especially struggle with this
  • Data structures - worth being thorough, but you can go through it quickly.

Don’t worry about being correct or knowing the material back-to-front. Use mistakes as teaching moments: the most vital skill you can impart is how to debug and recover from unexpected errors.