This optional class AB 966 Cultural and Behavioural Factors in Architecture and Urbanism isoffered to year 5 PgDipl in Advanced Architectural Design and Year 2 MSc in Advanced Architectural Studies. The class is premised on the view that the built environment is not simply a background against which human actions take place, but it regards it as it reflects and shapes human assumptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviours.
Coupled with typical lecture format of delivery of a series of lectures, I provided a series of in-class and out of class exercises and assignments that employ active, experiential, and inquiry-based learning as forms of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and learning from reality. The exercises involved group and individual work and varied in time from 10 minutes in-class exercises in teams of two students, to two-hours collaborative design game of teams of four students, to a structured learning experience out of classroom (contemplating settings exercise), and to finally a group research project.
Department of Architecture
Faculty of Engineering
Professor Ashraf M. Salama
Architecture students are typically encouraged to engage in site visits and walkthroughs in a building or city spaces in order to observe different phenomena. Yet, these visits and exercises are not necessarily structured in any form of rigorous investigation or critical inquiry. Moreover, in large classes or studios, the proposition of a site visit is often met with logistical difficulties, and with little opportunity for individual student mentoring. Two major critical points can be envisaged in this context. They continue to characterize teaching practices of lecture based modules in architecture, and can be labelled under the headings of: a) learning theories about the phenomena versus getting the feel of the behaviour of the phenomena, and b) the real versus the hypothetical.
- The total number of students enrolled from two programs was 32. Certainly, this initiative was scalable in that I was able to successfully implement it in a class of this size. Yes, as stated above, an easily adaptable learning space would increase efficiency and efficacy of the delivery of this approach.
- I would certainly encourage integrating active and experiential learning tools and modes of delivery of instruction. I find the development of similar tools in other classes that are “lecture-based” amenable to students learning and creating excitement in the classroom. In addition to offering multiple learning opportunities, I would
- The amount of information retained by students declines substantially after 10 or 15 minutes of lecturing. Students do not learn much by sitting in class, listening to staff, memorizing pre-packaged and ready-made interpretations. The implementation of this initiative in other similar classes would offer students sufficient opportunities to talk about what they are learning, write about it, and relate it to past experiences.
- A consideration of the class size/students numbers in relation to the type and nature of exercises and projects is important when embarking upon similar approaches.
- References: Salama, A. M. (2015). Spatial Design Education: New Directions for Pedagogy in Architecture and Beyond. Farnham Surrey, United Kingdom. http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472422897