Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Roxana Karam

PhD candidate, The University of Edinburgh


It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. (Albert Einstein)

Over the last 3 years, I have been involved in collaborative projects as a team member, organizer, co-organizer, fund raiser and tutor since 2015 across different schools in ECA. I have been active in both research and practice and have been testing different methodologies and approaches to tackle value constellation in data driven innovations. From the beginning of 2018 I have been involved in teaching two groups in a Masters course: Design with Data and have been supervising a group in another Masters course: Digital Media Studio Project. I have also been co-organizing the DataVisFest workshop and the [Digital Practices] Symposium in the school of architecture and landscape architecture as well a workshop in the creative learning festival which was titled: [3D Blockchain]. All of these activities were planned, reflected and recorded as various aspect of understanding, analysing and examining values within digital economies and data driven societies.

The main challenges I had during my research and practice experiences working with data driven projects were both observational as a tutor and self-experience as a researcher. As a tutor the challenge was to guide students to transfer their data and design a narrative in which they tackle a design problem with regards to their dataset they have. As a researcher, I have been confronted with technical, social and ethical issues such as vulnerability, interpretation and precision in designing with data which I would like to develop them further.

The main area of investigation in my career post PhD in both teaching and research is to focus on answering these questions:

  • How can we bridge the three areas of research, education and practice by addressing process and values?
  • How can we define and formulate narratives based on the role of data in contemporary digital humanities?


Earlier in my career as a tutor, I was mainly focusing on how students develop their concepts using technical design software such as Rhino and Grasshopper. My first work as a tutor was teaching parametric algorithms (grasshopper/rhino) and digital surgeries as part of the Design studio 3 (undergraduate course at school of architecture and landscape architecture). In the second year of my teaching, I was co-tutoring the architecture design studio 3 in which I was more involved with the students’ course work and design development as well as prototyping and designing final exhibition. During my time as a contracted tutor, I managed to record and develop methods for tutoring and working with students using top-down, bottom-up and practice-led schemes. These schemes were the results of teaching, research and observing experienced tutors while I was involved in course, as well as studying the University of Edinburgh official online documents for teaching and also consulting professional tutors and lecturers across different schools in the Edinburgh College of Art. I have been successful in working with students from various demographic and academic backgrounds across the Edinburgh College of Art and have demonstrated enthusiastic dedication in teaching, learning and interaction with staff and students.

I have been using different methods for communicating coursework materials, as well as following up on my students’ progress and concerns. Following the main university platform for student-tutor communications: Learn, I have been also utilizing social media platforms i.e. slack and Facebook through creating a closed group with my students. I believe that the teaching is more effective and efficient if the communication with students is through the tools and applications they use and are more familiar with in their daily routine. Using this method, I observed that students are more involved with the course and they no longer see the course related interactions as something extra to deal with and it is more integrated with their lives. After each tutorial, I have been providing the students with a brief of what was discussed and what should be done for the next session through both email and social media links. I have been also encouraging recording and taking notes during the tutorials as well as suggesting different references in different media formats. I have observed that students’ learning curve depends on the one hand, on what media they use to learn, and on the other, their presence in the tutorial session. During my time as a tutor, I have had positive reviews from my students in all the courses I have taught and been referenced in the students’ final submission in the architecture design studio 3 in 2017.

To ensure the student-learning success, I have been documenting the issues and concerns as well as opportunities and potential ideas in each course I have been teaching. I have also applied for HEA (higher education academy) Fellowship which is currently in the assessment process. My teaching philosophy has been gradually evolved through tutoring experience and other forms of interaction with students such as workshops, conferences, competition and collaborations. I have developed a more student-focused approach grounded in developing supportive and encouraging environments in which students learn by doing and develop their own skillset and methods for their future career in either/or academia and practice. Maintaining such fruitful teaching and learning environments requires the following elements.

  • Providing students with sufficient learning material and engaging them in critical design thinkin
  • enriching dialogue between students and the tutor and having more round-the-table discussions and brainstorming as well as students’ self-assessment
  • promoting the learning-by-doing and team working scheme; prototyping and multi-layer stages of problem solving
  • encouraging interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches and collaborations and involvement in academic events across the university
  • emphasizing contribution to knowledge, practice and the subject of study through articulating a narrative-based design thinking
  • expanding the scopes of the course beyond the coursework; introducing different platforms for sharing and exploring critical approaches in both design and research i.e. competitions, residencies and collaborative workshops and events

As the project supervisor, I have been developing my own project brief for the second semester of the academic year 2017. I have also designed a weblog for the unit to communicate the brief, requirements, learning outcomes as well as monitoring the mid-term and final submissions. The information regarding this course can be found here:

List of courses taught:

  1. Architectural design studio 3 (2015-2017), undergraduate course in school of architecture
  2. Design with Data (2018), Masters course in school of Design informatics
  3. Digital Media studio Project (2018), Masters course