Parallel Modernities in Art and Architecture is a core history unit in ALVA (now the School of Design). The aim of this project is to address low SURF scores (Students' Unit Reflective Feedback) the unit received in Semester 1, 2015 and to introduce a new image database as a targeted etivity in order to improve communication and student engagement through a series of new tools integrating content delivery, student exploration, assessment and rubrics.
As identified in the SURF scores, the weakest aspect of this unit is the organisation/coordination of assessment and unit goals. To address this, the project will create a unit interface that will supplement material presented in the lecture with material supplied by students themselves. The database will connect material taught in the history of architecture with the need of precedents, visual templates, in design units and thus bridge the gap between theory and practice studies. In this novel approach, the team will also test the potential of assessing students according to the contribution they make to group learning and the image database. Numerous participative activities (assessable and non-assessable) can be generated by the interaction between students, teachers and the contents of the database.
This intervention will be designed to facilitate interactive learning and motivate students to share knowledge with their peers, thus building a more diverse but unified learning community. Using images (with brief textural explanations) as a mode of communication will help build visual material interactively and assist international students to bridge cultural gaps and better integrate into the group of their peers.
This project involved restructuring the unit to effectively incorporate new teaching materials, including images and social media. The main goals as stated in the project proposal were successfully met with significantly improved SURF survey scores. A survey was conducted of all aspects of the class which showed that more than 90% of students felt that they had learned a lot from the class and found it engaging. In terms of building community, improvement is needed and the participation in the image database needs more structure. Key accomplishments were; History of modern architecture (the topic of the unit) was made part of the creative curriculum, students gained knowledge of historical fundamentals, which enable conversation between peers and students learned to collaborate with each other and learn through debate. Transferring the bulk of learning activities from the lecture hall to the classroom and teaching in small groups through discussion shows immediate results. Intense student exchange and debate that combines in-person and online interaction is what will distinguish on-site learning from online courses.
Presenting a paper at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Fall Conference in Marfa, Texas, 12-14 October 2017.