Effectively Extending Computational Training Using Informal Means at Larger Institutions

Short courses offered by High Performance Computing (HPC) centers offer an avenue for aspiring Cyberinfrastructure (CI) professionals to learn much-needed skills in research computing. Such courses are a staple at universities and HPC sites around the country. These short courses offer an informal curricular model of short, intensive, and applied micro-courses that address generalizable competencies in computing as opposed to content expertise. The degree of knowledge sophistication is taught at the level of below a minor and the burden of application to domain content is on the learner. Since the Spring 2017 semester, Texas A&M University High Performance Research Computing (TAMU HPRC) has introduced a series of interventions in its short courses program that has led to a 300% growth in participation. Here, we present the strategies and best practices employed by TAMU HPRC in teaching short course modules. We present a longitudinal report that assesses the success of these strategies since the Spring semester of 2017. This data suggests that changes to student learning and a reimagination of the tiered instruction model widely adopted at institutions could be beneficial to student outcomes.