Teaching Philosophy

Arduino Training My research and teaching persona, the “makeademic,” emphasizes incorporating maker activities to enhance learning and writing, whether in free 2-hour workshops on Arduino for middle school Girls Tech campers or in semester-long multimodal composition university courses. This approach generates creativity, diminishes intimidation by creating scaffolding, and elevates students from amateurs analyzing experts to experts analyzing their own work. One example of this strategy is a two-pronged assignment where students design and 3D print artifacts and then write instructions to replicate the process for a public forum. Most students in my courses are unfamiliar with 3D printing, so I introduce it to them conceptually and practically through guided readings and makerspace visits. I then ask them to search and find 3D models in the online collection, Thingiverse, as sample models for 3D printing. We check out 3D printers from the library and troubleshoot the apparatus from software installation to hardware setup and 3D print these miniature sample models. When students experience a virtual model of their choice materialize out of plastic in a matter of 12 minutes, they are less intimidated by the process. With the affordances and limitations of the medium in mind, they enthusiastically brainstorm their own project. I then assign online 3D modeling tutorials through the free, online service, Tinkercad, and offer an in-class computer lab workshop where they can ask me and their peers for help as they finish their 3D model and print. At this point, they have advanced from beginner to expert stage within a few course meetings and are therefore expert enough to create instructions for others, but can vividly recall their initial bewilderment. Therefore, they generously include tips and notes of their discoveries alongside the images, videos, and imperative step-by-step text of their instructions. They share these instructions with the online community, Instructables, where any user can post comments and questions; this allows them to see how their writing can be beneficial to the public, not just the small group in class. As this assignment also highlights, my pedagogy is aimed at using open-access resources and sharing writing with a public audience. Another way that I have achieved this is by creating dedicated course Tumblrs for students to post course content that are searchable via tags. Not only have students reflected positively on sharing their writing with a wider audience, but my colleagues also appreciate that they can see my assignment instructions and sample student work to gain inspiration for their own courses. When students are confident that they are experts in the materials they are expected to write about, assessing their improved writing . Additionally with a public audience in mind, students come to recognize that the content must be immediately engaging and well-designed to capture attention. Whether expository or argumentative, students attend to the multimodality of the act of writing as well as the visual design of the final output. Ultimately, though they learn much by observing and analyzing good examples of multimodal texts, students most often reflect that their takeaways from my courses are removing writing blocks, reconnecting with their creative potential, and learning by making.