Architectural learning tool
Current trends in architectural education lean toward presenting and discussing the end product more than the process that leads to it. They equally highlight students' passive participation at the design studio practice. In response, this research aims to develop a design-learning tool that should overcome these dilemmas and others, and develop a design practice that enables and encourages students to share the responsibility of developing their design practice with the design tutor. This tool is called the Architectural Learning Tool or ALT. ALT has therefore four objectives to achieve: I- Improving students' design practice; 2- Increasing students' participation in the design studio; 3- Exposing students to other designers' experiences; 4- Increasing the students' understanding of the design practice. The theoretical grounding of the ALT is mainly Kolb's and Schon's theories. The Experiential Learning Theory by David Kolb aims to activate learners' participation at the learning environment through the use of their prior experiences at the new learning activity. The Reflective Practice Theory, by Donald Schon, provides a paradigm for describing design action that deconstructs the design process into four actions, naming, framing, moving, and reflecting. Therefore, it could be utilised by students in the design studio to explicit the design practice, present and discuss it in meaningful manner. These theories have given this research the theoretical framework to create the ALT, and develop it as design teaching technique. Based on these theories and the extensive review of the architectural education literature, researcher has developed a ALT teaching model for students to practise design in the new environment, and according to the required studio setting. This design-teaching model consists of four parts: I- Designing according to the students' existing design mode; 2- Deconstructing the design practice according to Schon's framework; 3- Replicating the design practice of other students; 4- Re-Designing the project in the manner of other designers. The research data consists of recorded students presentation and discussion sessions, and in-depth interviews with students, as group and individuals, after they have completed the ALT's project. All of these data are analysed to clarify the achievements of the ALT and its role in developing students' design practice. The research results indicates that the student design practice has been improved in three domains: I- Enhancing the designing activity by providing students with different design techniques to practise design professionally. 2- Assessing students' design practice to determine the strong and weak sides. 3- Enhancing students' ability to communicate meaningfully with others during the presentation and the discussion activities of the design practice.