Teaching Architectural Education at KSA

The module AR600 – Architectural Pedagogy is now running for the second year, following a successful first year in 2014-15. KSA is currently the only school of architecture in the UK that  offers a taught programme in architectural education, combining a formal program of lectures, tutorials and seminars with research projects and teaching placements. The module is taught over two terms and is offered to students in the final year on the Master of Architecture (MArch).

Alongside undertaking research projects and attending a formal programme of lectures and seminars, which covers social research methods and educational theory and philosophy, the students work as Teaching Assistants on the first year of the BArch program. The module is taught by the module convener, Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt, but the during the placements the  first year tutors act as mentors, reviewing their progress in teaching practice. The students are recording their teaching experience and observations in teaching  journals and will write a critical reflection on their practice at the end of Spring Term.

On Wednesday, 16 December 2015, the current cohort of students gave presentations on their research projects. These were attended by the module convenor and members of the first year tutorial team, Rebecca Hobbs, Chris Gardener and Patrick Crouch. The project engaged with a diverse range of topics in architectural education. Two projects reviewed more fundamental questions about the UK’s architectural educational system. Philippa Cheetham’s study reviewed the RIBA’s proposed changes to the current model, exploring barriers to establishing closer partnerships between universities and architectural practices in the education of architects. Amy Forrest conducted surveys looking at how far employers and students themselves consider the architectural degree effective in getting students ready for industry. Much of the design teaching in architecture schools is delivered by practicing architects and Hannah Williams’ project explored how far involvement in teaching enables practitioners to become better designers. A questionnaire-based survey suggest that it does, amongst others by enabling practitioners to hone their communication skills or advance their knowledge of current technology and environmental principles. The other projects addressed questions related to teaching practice and the student learning experience. Nathaniel Seal investigated how and how far technical teaching feeds into studio-based design teaching. David Canalda focused on the use of model making as educational tools and Noor Alalawi research was on the difficulties of teaching construction detailing in the context of design. Farran Keenan’s project explored how students can learn through the experience of real buildings. Matthew Orme undertook a detailed study on the student perception of design crits and Jamal Beckford studied the interaction between students and studio tutors.

The project reviews were followed by the presentations and discussions on teaching practice, engaging with different aspects of the current first year curriculum. It  facilitated a dialogue between the pedagogy students and the more experienced professional university tutors about the challenges of teaching architecture at undergraduate level. Over the past two years the research  has also directly contributed towards the development of new educational practices at Kent. This included, among others, the development of an architectural dictionary for the first year program and recommendations for restructuring the undergraduate technology curriculum.

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.