Multimodal presentations are a central teaching and learning approach used in the discipline of architecture (Olweny, 2020), and help to enculture students into the discipline and profession. However, language and communication skills are still not a visible part of academic study in many disciplines (Bond, 2020), and in our experience, architecture students often struggle with the linguistic demands of their presentations, especially those with additional language needs. There is a need to develop the field of ‘language for architecture’ and to explore the use of practical language-based tools (Gstach & Kirschbaum, 2016). This action research study is part of a larger university-wide initiative to embed academic language at a university in Australia, where we work as Lecturers in Academic Language and Learning. The university-wide initiative screens all commencing students for language, and those identified as needing support attend compulsory language development tutorials alongside a core discipline subject. In 2021, we embarked on an action research project with the research question “How can we best support students with identified language needs to develop their oral presentation skills?” We created materials for the language development tutorials that we were teaching and collected data to learn about our students’ needs and to discover how well the materials were working. Data collection included online surveys with students, student focus groups, samples of student work, and a teacher journal. The research findings have informed the development of new presentation preparation materials that aim for transformative, discipline-specific language development.
A. Murphy – I am a Lecturer in Academic Language and Learning, working closely with students and staff in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Built Environment. I teach language development tutorials and subject-specific workshops, and produce learning materials in collaboration with faculty staff. My research interests include action research, language learning and academic literacy, and in particular the use of language and communication skills in the field of Architecture.
E. Edwards – I have been working in the area of academic communication for 20 years and am currently working alongside academics and students in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Built Environment. My Ph.D. in performance studies looks at how art can enable transformation. I also research in student engagement, feminism, and use Action Research principles in my research and approach to teaching.