Establishing best-practice principles for the teaching of group design projects

  • YEAR
    Tucker, Richard
    2004 Conference Papers
    Architectural education


ABSTRACT: The two hundred years of apprentice/master tradition that underpins the atelier studio
system is still at the core of much present day architectural design education. Yet this tradition poses
today uncertainties for a large number of co-ordinating lecturers faced with changes in the funding of
tertiary education. In particular, with reductions to one-to-one staff/student contact time, sessional
funding sources and to the relative weighting of design subjects with respect to other areas, many
educators are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain an atelier system that has shaped both their
learning and more pointedly their teaching. If these deficiencies remain unchecked and design-based
schools are unable to implement strategies that successfully overcome the resource intensive one-toone
teaching program, then architecture may prove to be an untenable course structure for many

Rather then spreading their time thinly, many co-ordinating lecturers are setting group projects in order
to review less assignments but at greater depth. However, while this learning model better reflects
design teams in practice, the approach poses other questions. What is clear is the urgent need for a
readily adoptable pedagogy for the teaching and assessment of group design projects. At Deakin
University, research is underway aimed at establishing best-practice principles for group design
projects by analysing students’ performance and recording and implementing their feedback to
adjustments made to modes of assessment, group configuration and program structure. There are
after two years of preliminary studies already clear indications of what changes can be made to these
pedagogical structures to encourage more effective team learning. This paper will present the findings
of these studies.


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