In higher education the contexts of teaching and learning are dynamic, and it can be challenging to understand the impact of pedagogy. Typically teaching practices focus on student learning, monitoring the development of skills and knowledge, and more recently measuring the immediate impact of changes such as those brought about by COVID-19. However, a different focus is needed to understand the broader, more long-term social impact of pedagogy. Higher education learning experiences can be transformative, prompting shifts in the worldviews of students, academics, and the stakeholders with whom they engage. These shifts in perspective can influence and drive change in future practices within the academic institution, the related professions, and the broader community. This paper focuses on the Architecture programs at the University of Notre Dame Australia as a means of understanding this broader impact of learning. The discipline of architecture is new to the University and developing these programs has provided the teaching team with the opportunity to extend familiar practices and explore new pedagogical approaches. The Framework for Transformative Experiences implemented here identifies how architectural learning can prompt change in social networks, professional practices, and community leadership. Narratives from the teaching team are used to examine the contexts of learning and interactions of students, academics, and community stakeholders. Elements of transformative learning are looked for in these narratives to identify opportunities for all involved to set goals, develop shared language collaboratively, and respond to and contextualise change. The experience of developing these new programs offers a unique opportunity not only to reflect on successes and challenges faced, but to look forward and identify new directions for architectural learning. This focus on transformative experiences informs our understanding of how pedagogies can respond to change and positively influence how we live within, and value built, social and natural environments.
Lara Mackintosh is an early career researcher, senior lecturer and registered architect. Lara’s passion for understanding our relationship with our environments informs her approach to learning, curriculum development, and professional practices. Her research interests, teaching activities and architectural practices come together at the Fremantle School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame Australia, as she builds the community of Notre Dame Practice Partners within the architectural profession in Perth and Fremantle. Over 25 years in academia and architectural practice, Lara has supported innovative teaching approaches, created engaging learning environments, and provided challenging learning experiences. She prepares students for entry into professional environments by embedding students in practice, supporting the application of theory to ‘real life’ scenarios. Lara’s teaching spans across streams in the architectural curriculum and reaches out to other disciplines. This distinct pedagogical approach is strengthened by her research on transformative learning experiences within environmental, and more specifically, architectural education. Lara’s research includes developing and supporting architectural education programs from primary to professional levels; the evaluation of learning environments and the relationship between pedagogy and space; and the role of architecture and learning in supporting sustainable behaviour.