Pedagogical Statement

Since a major goal of the Macaulay curriculum is to encourage students to conceive of college—and of the city itself—as a set of linked and mutually-informing learning experiences, I seek to develop digital projects that make use of Macaulay students’ physical environment—New York City—as a site for primary research, hands-on learning, and an opportunity to explore the community at large.

When guiding faculty through the process of designing a digital component to a course, I’ll often begin with a series of questions: “How do you envision your students interacting with you, with each other, and with the assigned materials?” “What forms of analysis do you hope to facilitate?” and “What specific skills do you hope to instill?”

I employ a similar approach with students, asking questions about the form and function of their research, and the modes of presentation that they have in mind, questions like: “What research question are you trying to answer?” “What kind of research are you trying to collect?” “Are you interested in visual evidence? First-hand accounts? Numerical data? Or something else?” Only after we have together determined the scholarly goals of the project will I offer my thoughts as to the specific digital methods and tools that might enhance it and/or the digital modes of scholarship that might be best suited to a particular research goal.

The results of this approach extend beyond the specific tools that the students (and faculty) learn to use, or even beyond the ability to select the appropriate tool for a particular research task. Students acquire an additional level of digital literacy with the knowledge of the range of tools, methods, and modes that are available to them, and with the understanding that it’s often possible to acquire a baseline competency within a few minutes of use. Technologies change, but by instilling in students the ability to ask big-picture questions about their research, and the idea that learning new tools is a part of that research, I hope to provide them with an extensible approach that they can apply to their own future scholarly work.

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