New MArch Module in Architectural Pedagogy introduced

Architectural Pedagogy, a new optional module convened by Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt, has been introduced into the MArch programme. It is designed to provide stage five students with a formal programme in the teaching of architectural design and communication. Through this module students are to develop an understanding of the general principles of architectural pedagogy, first through practical experience with studio teaching in the first year undergraduate programme and second through research in the field of higher education.

The focus of the module is on teaching and learning models that are specific to architecture. It is taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, group seminars and review sessions. Teaching and assessment of this module is divided into two components:

Component I: Theory
For the theory component students are tasked with producing an academic essay based on a topic in the field of architectural education. In these essays students explore a particular area of architectural education in greater depth. Through weekly lectures and a series of group tutorials students are introduced to (a) educational theories and models of architectural education (b) research methodologies in education and (c) practical pedagogical methods used in studio teaching.

Component II: Teaching Practice
For the practical component students take on the role of Teaching Assistants in the first year undergraduate programme under the supervision of a dedicated studio tutors and the module convenor. This year there are four studio tutors: David Moore, Rebecca Hobbs, Chris Gardener, Henry Sparks. The MArch students work closely with the studio tutors, but will be given enough independence to develop their own individual approaches to teaching and to provide the space for exploring various alternative methods. Following Donald Schön’s principles of reflective practice students are asked to demonstrate the ability to develop, deliver and critically review your own teaching sessions. The practical components is assessed on the basis of a weekly teaching diary through teaching observations and a reflective report on their overall teaching experience at the end of Spring Term.

Stage five students on field trip to Folkestone with the first year students and their main tutors

Shelter Project supervised by the first year tutorial team and the MArch students on the Pedagogy Module.

As such the module provides future architecture with the teaching skills and pedagogical understanding required to remain active in the education of architects whilst practicing.

Virginia Tech Term Abroad

srimpy and chris

MArch 5th Year students, Christopher Gray and Srimathi Aiyer, are currently completing a semester abroad at Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC). Here’s what they have to jointly say about their experience so far…

“It has been an interesting insight into an alternative Western architectural education. America has changed the way we approach and evaluate our surroundings and living in the nation’s capital of Washington DC has been a humbling experience. DC, as a memorial city, has been an eye-opener on the importance and gravitas that a nation’s history can have on the urban fabric. To have the WAAC school located in the town of Alexandria right next to DC couldn’t have been more convenient. We have been able to access stores, supermarkets and Metro travel links into DC. From DC itself, as well as the historical and cultural sights to see, from museums to shopping malls, there’s also buses and coaches that reach surrounding cities like Philadelphia, New York and others along the East Coast. Prices for travel have been a lot cheaper than expected and we have taken the time to visit these places in our spare moments away from work. We even have an upcoming trip with the school later in November, going to Kentuck Knob and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water in Pennsylvania.

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Work-wise, the studio atmosphere is exciting, electrifying and has not been a huge shock away from what we are used to in the UK, although there are still obvious differences. The professors and tutors here are knowledgeable and have always given effective constructive criticism on our work that we pin up and present on a weekly basis. In between, we sign up for desk tutorials; so each student has their own allocated work desk and after signing up to see a faculty member, they approach your desk at the designated time to discuss your progress. In addition, the peer-to-peer learning has helped establish and enhance new friendships, while discovering the approaches that students from across America and the rest of the world take to their own work. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other here and we were welcomed with open arms right on the first day. We have been able to be expressive and passionate about our design projects, which we will be continuing throughout the rest of the year upon our return to Kent in the Spring Term.

As well as the design project, we are allowed to take additional classes, from Photography and Printmaking to Revit and Design Build. There’s also history and theory seminars, which lead to reading and writing assignments. We could take as many classes as we wanted, but not too many as the design project should take up a minimum of half the time in the week. Classes tend to start at 1:30pm every day and the last classes finish at 10pm. On Wednesday nights, there’s film screenings in the WAAC lobby, so students take time from their schedules to sit in on those. In terms of facilities, we are lucky to have our own model making workshop, both for wood and metals, plus computer labs, printing facilities and we were even trained to use the laser cutter on our own. Needless to say, we both have taken advantage of this opportunity to access the laser cutter whenever we wanted and it’s been a lot easier to make any complex, intricate models.

The accommodation block, called The Gallery, is just round the corner from the main WAAC building. As the studio is open 24/7, it’s been quick and easy to pop back and forth to the dormitories. The dorms are shared with either one, two or three other architecture students. So far, we can say that we are used to sharing bedrooms with our roommates. Sometimes we help each other out in terms of costs for food, laundry etc. but as internet was not included, we each did a deal where we would share the broadband router with our neighbours, and therefore the costs get significantly reduced. The Gallery has a main atrium with a ping pong table and a rooftop terrace with a barbeque grill. These areas have been key locations for socials and gatherings, particularly on Friday nights when all of us deserve a break!

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Overall, the majority of costs seem a lot cheaper than the UK, once prices are converted. There are fees for applying for the student visa, flights etc. but general day-to-day living costs are manageable and any potential future study abroad applicants can apply for the UK student loan as normal. The accommodation block is roughly the same as Kent campus accommodation in terms of fees. Apart from that, we both feel that the personal experience Virginia Tech as given us outweighs any cost concerns and we are both very happy that Kent has maintained a strong American link over the past few years and will hopefully continue to do so. We encourage any Kent MArch students to take the leap of faith and apply to study abroad in Virginia Tech. Not just for the education and academic reputation that the WAAC has, but for the chance to meet people from different backgrounds and increase your knowledge on what America is really like to live in.”

halloween