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Kim E. Pearson <email@example.com>
The College of New Jersey
Current projects in progress
"The Re-Education of Me: Journalism, Diversity and Computing
Journalism is undergoing fundamental change; so is journalism education. There is a growing consensus that part of that change requires the cultivation of a new mindset and skillset among practicing journalists that accounts for the possibilities and limitations of computing technologies for newsgathering, and presentation. If this new news culture is to fulfill its fundamental mission of empowering citizens with the information they need to function in a democracy, then the pool individuals participating in this new news economy must be diverse.
This becomes a matter of particular concern when one considers that both journalism and computer science have historically been fields that have been challenged when it comes to recruiting women and people of color. Moreover, those individuals, once recruited, must find creative ways of engaging an audience that is not only diverse culturally and linguistically, but cognitively.
I come to this work as a journalism educator familiar with efforts to diversify the journalism pipeline through camps, workshops, internships and mentoring programs. Recruiting efforts in computer science have taken similar forms, however, many of these projects have been the centerpiece of formal research studies with rigorous evaluation. Journalism leaders turning to the task of introducing computational thinking into journalism education and practice on a wide scale can learn a great deal from parallel efforts in computer science education. One key lesson is that a students choices in middle school are a critical determinant of their readiness for pursuing computing studies in college. Thus, news industry leaders looking to foster a new generation of computational journalists must direct new attention to middle school.
Since 2007, I have been a co-principal investigator in a National Science Foundation-funded demonstration project, the Interactive Journalism Institute for Middle Schoolers, that uses journalism to interest students in computer science. During the course of the project, I realized that much of what we had the student journalists doing resembled things I had done 40 years before as a student as the JR Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, which I attended from 4th through 8th grade. I had already been aware that the constructivist nature of Masterman’s pedagogy had influenced my thinking and teaching over the years. My memory was validated by the discovery of two papers written by one of my music teachers at Masterman, Virginia Hagemann. This project explores those connections with an eye toward understanding how those experiences might be useful today, when we have much more information about how children learn higher-order thinking skills.
Finally, the task of diversifying our technical workforce requires an understanding of the sociological, political and cultural forces that advance or impede student progress. Creating a diverse workforce means creating and sustaining mechanisms for crossing class and culture barriers. The story of progress made by working class students, women and students of color in the post-World War II era would not have been possible without the public policy and legislative changes wrought by the GI Bill and the movements for racial and gender equality of the last century. Current efforts to diversify computing take place in a radically different public policy context that includes a more fragmented, ideologically-riven media environment.
A note on method and content
This project draws upon work that I have been doing on issues related to diversity in both the journalism and computing pipelines over the last ten years. It is the work of a literary journalist and reflective practitioner, not a traditional communications scholar. As such, it begins with an auto-ethnography focused upon those aspects of my educational development that contributed to my becoming first, a magazine writer, and second, a writer capable of navigating the shift to computational journalism. This focus on myself is not intended as an exercise in vanity, or even memoir in the traditional sense. Rather, because my experience is that teachers tend to teach as they have been taught, it is an effort to become conscious of what is or is not relevant to the needs of the news industry as it is emerging.
From the consideration of my own education through middle school, the work will report on several constructivist research projects. The first is the Interactive Journalism Institute for Middle Schoolers, a National Science Foundation-supported demonstration project that uses community journalism to engage middle-schoolers and their teachers in computer science.
The College of New Jersey
Ewing, New Jersey 08628-7718
|List Affiliations:||List Editor for Jhistory
Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Over the course of three decades, Kim Pearson has built a career using professional communications to help people, organizations and communities bridge differences and create new opportunities.
A graduate of Princeton University, Pearson began her professional career as a writer and lay counselor for the Cancer Information Service at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. She then matriculated through New York University’s graduate program in journalism, where she earned the Hillier Krieghbaum Science Writing Award. After NYU, she became a science writer for Bell Laboratories, where she produced award-winning articles for several company newspapers and magazines. Pearson also began a freelance magazine writing career that would lead to bylines in Black Collegian, Black Enterprise, Newsday, The Crisis, Newsday, The Revealer, The Princeton Independent, Princeton Alumni Weekly, Quarterly Black Review of Books and Emerge.
Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the English Department at The College of New Jersey, where she teaches courses in writing and reporting for journalism and interactive multimedia. She is a co-founder of TCNJ’s Interactive Multimedia Major, and advisor to Unbound, an online newsmagazine that was first conceived in her magazine writing class in 1996, and which has published continually ever since. She also advises TCNJ’s award-winning magazine club, Ed@TCNJ, as well as the campus chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She is past advisor to TCNJ’s award winning student newspaper, The Signal.
Former President Clinton and Kim Pearson
Pearson’s current interdisciplinary research and practice is focused on creating and sustaining models for civic engagement in an environment that has upended traditional journalism and civic culture.
That practice includes publishing a blog, Professor Kim’s News Notes, from 2003-9, providing reporting and informed analysis on politics, culture and media criticism. From 2006 to the present, Pearson has served as a contributing editor for media and law for BlogHer.com, a major online community for women bloggers, where she was integrally involved in coverage of the 2008 election. She is also a contributor to Poynter.org’s E-Media Tidbits blog.
Pearson also collaborates with colleagues in computer science and interactive multimedia to help writers and storytellers become better computational thinkers, and to help aspiring computer scientists become better communicators. This work includes helping to conceive the content management system for Unbound magazine, and being part of an interdisciplinary faculty team that created and executed TCNJ’s videogame development curriculum. That curriculum was initially created with support from Microsoft. Currently, she is the co-PI of the Broadening Participation in Computing via Interactive Journalism for Middle Schoolers NSF grant program. She is also co-Principle Investigator for a second NSF grant, Distributed Expertise in Computing with Connections to the Arts, under the aegis of the cPATH program.