Arch 463/464 Hands-On Learning Initiative
Teaching and Learning Grant Proposal Narrative This proposal addresses two of the Teaching/Learning Grant Program’s areas of development—
Development of acquisition of materials to enhance alternative learning strategies.
Improvement of classroom efficiency via application of technological solutions to educational problems.
1) Problem The Vital Signs Project is a nationwide effort to develop methods for using a new generation of small, easy-to-use, microchip-based instruments to help students understand how buildings and sites interact with environmental forces such as sun, wind, light, and sound. Over the last five years I have created Vital Signs teaching resource packages and case studies and have benefited from the two-year loan of a $25,000 Vital Signs toolkit. During these two years, in order to use these loaned instruments to improve learning, I have begun restructuring my required environmental technology lecture courses, Arch 463 and 464 (syllabi at ), and instigated many new exercises to provide hands-on experiences for students to measure and analyze building and site performance (e.g., effectiveness of external shading devices; microclimatic influences on a rural site; interactions among windows, sun, and light; effects of walls and roofs as thermal and acoustic barriers). These exercises and the instruments from the borrowed Vital Signs tool library have proven to be extremely popular with the students—the instruments have been in constant demand and used by students throughout the curriculum, not just the Arch 463/464 students. Next year, the toolkit must be returned. We need to replace or upgrade key equipment (the handheld instruments and micro-dataloggers in the toolkit have been improved in performance and declined in cost during the last five years) to allow architecture students continued access to these cutting-edge, hands-on methods for understanding our built environment.
2) Proposed Project I propose to extend my restructuring work for Arch 463/464 to incorporate more and better hands-on, team-based methods for measuring, analyzing, and understanding environmental interactions among building, site, and environmental forces. These methods will encourage student teamwork in developing specific issues to investigate, performing the experiments in actual buildings and outdoor spaces, and analyzing the results. Through these exercises students will gain insights into the performance of building materials and components, the effects of architectural design on human comfort, and the power of everyday environmental forces. This experientially gained knowledge will improve the students’ understanding of the interactions between buildings and the environment and ultimately will help them design buildings that respond appropriately to the environment while providing human comfort.
I seek grant support to procure the instruments required to assemble three hands-on tool kits that will make implementation of these course innovations possible. Based on my experience with the toolkit loan, I have identified instruments (and upgrades) which can be integrated into teaching Arch 463/464. The $25,000 tool kit will be effectively replaced with about $3200 worth of new tools. Specific instruments include:
compass/clinometers to measure site orientation and horizon obstructions
digital camera to record site and building features
The Department of Architecture has used extramural funding (mainly from the Vital Signs project) over the past five years to buy some of the basic instruments (one spot pyranometer, illuminance and luminance meters, and temperature data loggers), but our tool library remains incomplete and the Vital Signs project funding has lapsed.
3) Evaluation The project’s success will be measured by the amount and types of activity recorded in the tool library log. Students will be surveyed to assess tools used, effectiveness of exercises, utility of the tools, tool use for other courses, and which tools they would use after graduation and to suggest other appropriate exercises. Another measure of success will be gleaned from analysis of student evaluations of teaching. The most important measure of success will be the quality of student work in the hands-on exercises and succeeding architecture studio projects (cross-over application). The past two years’ experience with the widespread use of the Vital Signs tools and techniques in my classes is extremely encouraging. I will disseminate findings from this project through paper presentations at professional meetings and workshops for teachers and students at venues throughout the country.
4) Benefits Because Arch 463/464 is required for every architecture and interior architecture major, each student in our department (as well as many architecture minors from departments university-wide) will participate in these hands-on learning experiences. Two colleagues, Rula Awwad-Rafferty and Sandy Stannard, are also involved in Vital Signs projects and have encouraged their students to extend the use of the tools and techniques to other learning environments—lecture classes, seminars, and studios. I also will teach both studio and advanced seminars that will incorporate tool use that builds on the basic methods of Arch 463/464. Moreover, the instruments can continue to be used in delivering continuing education workshops to design professionals (e.g., 1998 Northwest Daylighting Forum, Seattle) and intensive workshops to students at other universities (Cornell, Ball State, Oregon, Oklahoma State). Each of the tools is a simple device of enduring usefulness that will benefit student learning for many years to come. Measuring, analyzing, and understanding building performance gives students an appreciation of the impact of design on the lives of building occupants in addition to the architect’s responsibility to provide buildings that successfully address environmental issues. As well as the short-term impact on student learning, the grant will have a long-term benefit to the state and the nation by raising professional architects’ level of understanding of building performance issues in design.
· Suunto DP-65 Global Compass 3@ $44.95 $134.85
[compass/clinometers to measure site orientation and horizon obstructions]