Faculty Focus- Amy Schwartz

Amy Schwartz Portrait


Amy Ellen Schwartz


Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs;  Also Professor of  Economics

How long have you been at the Maxwell School?

This is my fifth year

What department do you work in?

PAIA- Public Administration and International Affairs and Economics

How do you use technology in your research and/or teaching?

Much of my research leverages large administrative data sets, so I work with a large group of folks both at SU and elsewhere.  We use technology in various ways to store, organize, access, manage, and analyze the data.  The core of the data is student level data on NYC public school students (more than 1.1 million in a typical year), with many variables for each student.  Much of the data is annual, but some is daily, and we have up to twenty years on some variables so it can get large.  We use a variety of statistical packages- primarily STATA- for analysis.  We also use SAS and SPSS and Excel to process data sets received in those formats from public agencies and departments and a range of GIS software to do mapping- say, to capture distances between homes and schools.

We also rely on technology to facilitate access to these data for the research staff, doctoral students, faculty, and collaborators both at SU and elsewhere and to communicate with each other.  Skype, Webex, and other meeting packages are pretty critical for us to stay in touch.

Last- I am editor emeritus of Education Finance and Policy.  We used Editorial Express to manage that.. and I loved it!  When I took over the journal four and half years ago, submissions were managed by a terrific individual using conventional office software but submissions had been growing and it was getting cumbersome.  Taking the journal management on line was a bit of a hassle but really paid off.

What new technologies are you interested in using either in your teaching or for your personal use?

Well, I’m still looking for the perfect communications package.  All of them have attractive features –  but have issues as well.  It’s great when you can share your screen with others – so they can see what you are looking at, but it’s also good to be able to see them.  (It’s surprising how much easier it is to have a smooth conversation with a group of people when you can see each other.)  The technology is definitely improving but it isn’t quite as smooth and easy to use as I hope it will be.

As for my teaching, well, it’s the same thing.  I’ve used Blackboard and other class software and all have something nice about them but they are clunkier and more complicated than I hope they will become.

Finally – I keep hoping to make a really great personal webpage- with my papers, ongoing projects, speaking engagements, etc., but it never quite gets to the top of the to do list and so doesn’t get done.  Maybe soon!

Many thanks to Professor Schwartz for participating in the ICT Newsletter!