Learning digital humanities in a community of practice: the DEAR model of postgraduate research training

Francesca Benatti, Paul Gooding, Matthew Sillence

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To date, there has been relatively little discussion of how the UK doctoral funding landscape shapes digital humanities pedagogy for postgraduate research students. This article sets out to address this relative lack, by introducing the inter-and multi-disciplinary context in which many students in the UK work. We examine the phenomenon of students who are not necessarily interested in becoming DH practitioners, but have identified DH as a knowledge gap in their own disciplinary practice. Such a realisation changes the nature of the learner within DH communities of practice, requiring a different form of learning. This study therefore explores learning within a community of practice, the inter-and multi-disciplinary space in which digital humanities practitioners operate. First, drawing on the diverse disciplinary landscape, it highlights an individual's learning journey through self-determined learning (heutagogy). Second, it outlines an idea of digital humanities pedagogy for postgraduate research based on current frameworks of digital literacies and broader researcher development in the UK, framing research activity as learning. Third, it presents the DEAR model for learning and teaching design, which is based on four principles: Diversity; Employability; Application; and Reflection. Finally, it provides an evaluation of the DEAR model in the context of one UK Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). It contributes to understanding of pedagogical practices for doctoral-level DH training and provides a set of recommendations for instructors to adopt and adapt these pedagogical principles in their own programmes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • digital humanities
  • pedagogy
  • doctoral students

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