How can we improve out teaching approach when instructing pupils?
Towards the end of our time at the school, we were a lot more confident and comfortable in the school setting and interacting with both staff and students, than we were at the start. We think that an extended conversation with the school regarding the outcomes and objectives of both the Students and of us (the mentors) would allow for the next set of mentors to begin the process more seamlessly, and with a direct plan of action, rather than being reactive in the first session, and pro- active afterwards.
What other teaching methods could we use to engage pupils further?
Whilst the students enjoyed the range of methods we presented throughout the sessions. We felt that we were somewhat limited by the fact most of the students were focused on final production information for their coursework. Due to their time constraints, this meant we fulfilled a role of helping further their existing knowledge base, rather than being able to introduce new ideas through situational learning techniques such as workshops. Moving forward, we would consider following the ‘Flipped Classroom’ method (Bergmann and Sams, 2012), in which information such as lectures are viewed away from the classroom, and classroom time is dedicated to workshops and activities that address specific student concerns.
What information or activity would you want to be included in the future?
The idea of a ‘summer school’ or other extracurricular activities, that allow students to prepare for architectural education, without any possible detrimental effect on their current qualifications. Many of the students were also interested in group projects.
Taking this experience forward into our Postgraduate studies we have reflected on our own design processes through explaining our approach to Architecture and by demonstrating to students. Instructing students on their projects has in turn allowed us time to reflect upon our own feedback we have received and critically assess how we implemented this moving forward as we found ourselves relating to the students and providing similar feedback to what we received ourselves in first year BA. This is a similar theme to that picked up in Radical Pedagogy (Froud and Garris et al., 2015) where self-reflection is facilitated for postgraduate students in the act of providing peer to peer feedback “We found ourselves repeating to others the feedback we’d previously received, we became better enabled to take an objective perspective that led to rich self-reflections between tutorials” (Froud and Garris et al., 2015).
The feedback received from the students also provided the insight that relating peer to peer allowed for a deeper understanding between mentor and student, by showing examples of our own work before and after Architectural Education we could allow students more insight. As stated above teaching by example allowed the students to interpret key concepts into their own work and challenged them to take these concepts understood through the examples and apply it.
From our feedback received from the students, we were able to acknowledge how we could help them better. One of the key points they suggested was having desktop crits. In Setting up these desktop crits for the students was not only useful for them, but it was useful in our own reflection. This task allowed us to put ourselves in a tutors position which in turn allowed us to think about how we present our work and how we display our information/drawings in order for someone else (alien to your project) to understand it.
The feedback was also helpful in seeing what they were benefiting from the most. This therefore meant we could build on the workshops that were already effective and improve on them.
Producing these Journey into Architecture presentations also allowed a key moment of reflection for the Mentors on their own design process development and key interests that led to architecture.
In summary, whilst we feel this has been an invaluable experience for all us as postgraduates and for the students. The scope of our intervention is limited by two factors, time, and the further education model. Were we to spend longer at the school we would be able to introduce more complex concepts and working methods, as we would have longer to unpack these ideas with them.