Interested in working with me?

I’m actively seeking masters and doctoral students to work with me on research. However, not every student-advisor relationship is a match made in heaven. This page will give you a bit more information about what I’m interested in and what skills will be necessary for you to have a productive experience as part of my research team.

My Interests

I’m interested in play--in the activities, contexts, social arrangements, and tools involved and the ideas and artifacts constructed during play. I’m a constructionist which means I believe active and public construction of artifacts and ideas that have personal meaning facilitates the mental act of knowledge construction and refinement. As a constructionist I also believe the learner should be at the center of any learning experience--that the learner’s personal values and goals should drive the learning process (rather than mandated standards, chapters in a text book, teacher’s/administrator's/researcher's inclinations, etc). Taking seriously the learner and their unique ways of playing in and making sense of the world also means abandoning assumptions of “correct” ways of knowing dictated by a dominate culture/community. Consequently I’m very committed to elevating diverse learners’ ways of knowing and in creating tools and experiences to empower people of all genders, backgrounds, cultures, etc to connect with the world on their own terms.

These interests tend to be expressed and explored in content areas such as (but not limited to) the physical sciences and computer science, learning environments such as digital games and maker spaces, and locations such as classrooms, after school clubs, museums, and the home.

Skills I Look For

The research I do involves a variety of technical and non-technical skills, and the needs of particular projects vary. If you’re a graduate student you should already be comfortable with a variety of these skills.

Education

My research primarily centers on technologies whose purpose is to help people learn about something. Are you interested in teaching/learning? Have you taught before (tutored, summer camp, courses, TA’d)? Have you taken any courses in education?

Software Development

Some projects involve coding—either building new learning environments, or working with learners as they code. Experience with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript are most relevant. Some knowledge of environments such as Scratch or NetLogo are also useful.

Interviewing

My research involves talking to people about how they’re learning. Experience conducting interviews or focus groups is helpful.

Writing

Do you have experience with and enjoy writing? Great!

Interest in Research Required

We build all kinds of cool tools and toys in my lab, but toy development is only part of the larger scope of our work, which is studying how people learn and how new technologies can enable learning. Accordingly, the students who most successfully work with me are those who aren’t just looking to do software development or to spin out a product or company. Instead, they’re intently interested in understanding how the environment, tool, or toy they’re part of building shapes users’ learning experiences.

Take a Class With Me

One of the best ways for you to decide if you'd like to work with me and for me to judge whether you’d be a good fit for the lab is for you to take a class with me first. That will give you a sense for how I work with students and, depending on the course, the kinds of research I do. It also gives me an opportunity to see you and your skills in action. So, if possible, enroll in a class with me before seeking a position in the lab.

Prospective Graduate Students

Think you’d like to get a Masters or Doctoral degree? Apply to study in the CMLTD program at Teachers College! I strongly encourage you to get in touch with me in advance so that I have a better sense of who you are and can give some suggestions on next steps. In your message be sure to include answers to the following:

Why Me?

There are many great faculty at TC and many other institutions. Be sure to look at some of my recent publications and project descriptions first, and then tell me why you are specifically interested in working with me.

Why Research?

Tell me why you’re interested in getting involved in research in general, and specifically in the kind of research that I could help you with.

Your Skills

Tell me about your experience with the skills above and show me some evidence. If you’re a great programmer, send me a link to one of your recent projects. If you’ve conducted interviews, send me a transcript of one. If you’re a great writer, send me a sample. If you have some other talent that I haven’t listed, show me!

Special thanks to Ben Shapiro at the University of Colorado for his helpful example for how to structure this page. With his permission I have cribbed liberally from his example.