Recent discourse on built environment education asserts that a course mission should foster a learning environment that nurtures exploration and critical thinking. Today, inquiry and investigation are viewed as activities central to architectural pedagogy. This presents new opportunities for us as academics in architecture to strengthen our courses, to enhance our role in shaping architectural education, and to improve the quality of that education.
While architectural educators strive to impart the requisite knowledge necessary for successful practice, the way knowledge is transmitted has significant professional and social implications. Two major idiosyncrasies continue to characterize teaching practices of lecture based modules in architecture, which can be labelled as a) science as a body of knowledge versus science as a method of exploration and b) learning theories about the phenomena versus getting the feel of the behavior of the phenomena. Concomitantly, there is an urgent need to confront issues that pertain to the nature of reality (what) and the way in which knowledge about that reality is conveyed to future professionals (how).
This project advocates the integration of Inquiry Based Learning-IBL into architectural education by exposing students to primary source materials that enable them to get as close as possible to the realities being studied. Arguing for a new look at lecture-based courses in architecture, the project aims at developing and implementing an IBL mechanism for an elective module entitled “The Impact of Social, Cultural, and Behavioural Factors in Architecture and Urban Design.” Based on action and experiential learning as forms of IBL, such a mechanism encompasses two structured components that relate to the content covered: a) a series of in-class exercises that foster active/action learning in classroom settings, and b) a series of field based exercises that promote the concept of “learning from the everyday environment.”
By introducing the proposed IBL mechanism, students will have control over their learning while their understanding of the module topics is invigorated. On the other hand, staff will be in a better position to relate the delivered content to students’ learning experiences while excitement in the classroom setting is fostered. Notably, the overall outcome would enhance the delivery of the module while setting the stage for incorporating IBL in other similar lecture based courses in an efficient and effective manner.