Learning from the environment: evaluation research and experience based architectural pedagogy

Ashraf M Salama

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Debates on higher education assert that a university mission should foster a campus environment that nurtures exploration and critical thinking. Today, inquiry and investigation are viewed as activities central to undergraduate programs. This paper advocates the integration of research into undergraduate architectural education by arguing for the exposure of students to primary source materials that enable them to get as close as possible to the realities being studied. The paper generates a critical discussion on idiosyncrasies and misconceptions about knowledge acquisition and production. It explores the status of research methods courses in selected undergraduate architecture programs from the Middle East. An attempt at integrating evaluation research and experiential learning into architectural pedagogy is presented as a case from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). A framework toward a transformative architectural pedagogy is introduced to complement traditional teaching techniques. It outlines a number of related concepts together with the supporting learning mechanisms, activities, and settings. It is suggested that this framework would invigorate the capabilities of future architects to be more culturally and environmentally responsive, critical thinkers, and engage in the production of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-83
Number of pages20
JournalCentre for Education in the Built Environment Transactions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • evaluation research
  • experiential learning
  • research methods
  • design studio
  • lecture courses


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