As educators, how do we get – and keep – students engaged with course content, and excited by the process of learning? Higher education has become increasingly transactional, and the shift to online teaching saw levels of engagement and morale drop as anxiety levels rose, cameras stayed off, and questions from faculty were met with silence. How do we remind students of the transformative potentials of education? To increase engagement, it is important that students feel agency over their educations and become active participants in the learning process. What matters to them should matter to us. Students should be supported to cultivate their own interests and welcomed to share their diverse experiences, perspectives, and abilities. This can occur through horizontal rather than top-down teaching with a strong focus on collaboration, peer-to-peer learning, and faculty facilitating students’ abilities to develop a confident and skillful voice through the implementation of a supportive structure. With a focus on first and fourth year students in a pre-professional program in architecture, this presentation will share experiments in co-authoring syllabi and assignments with students, specification grading and co-assessment methods, and writing projects that guide students through acts of self-reflection that draw upon their personal experiences while analyzing the design standards that are pervasive in the architectural profession. These strategies have proven to help incorporate cultural expectations, welcome a range of voices to the discussion, increase engagement and agency, and develop life skills that transform students into engaged, empathetic, and independent citizens.
Fiona Lim Tung is a designer, researcher, and educator. She is currently Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Achitecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto and a Lecturer at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Fiona’s teaching interests include design fundamentals and visual representation. Fiona’s research focuses on drawing as a form of resistance, new agendas in representation, and the potential of architecture to contribute to more equitable futures.