Methods for Developing Flexible Technical Knowledge in Architectural Education

  • Daniel Chung Philadelphia University
  • Chris Harnish Philadelphia University
Keywords: problem-based learning, architectural education, building technology lectures, pedagogy, self-directed learning


Building technology is often the focus of required courses in architecture programs where there is an expectation that technical knowledge will help inform a student’s design process. The authors’ surveys of architecture faculty suggest programs desire students to integrate skills from technology courses into the studio setting, yet research reveals poor to mixed results. Research in other technical academic fields suggests traditional lecture course formats result in lower student retention of course content. Evidence shows content learned via lecture methods alone tends to be highly compartmentalized and inflexible, thus reducing the successful application of technical knowledge to other contexts, such as the technical courses and design studios found in architecture education. This paper examines active learning methodologies used in other technical academic curricula and considers how they may be applied to technical curricula in architecture. The paper proposes student’s difficulty in applying technical knowledge to design can be attributed to passive teaching methodologies used in lecture-based technology courses. To explore this proposition the authors reviewed pertinent literature from other disciplines and surveyed instructors experienced in employing laboratory type activities in their curriculum. The results of this research suggest hybridized problem-based learning (PBL) methodologies can be integrated into high content technical curricula to increase students’ problem solving skills with the aim of developing long-term flexible knowledge. The research also examines the architecture curriculum at the researchers’ institution. There, building technology courses were traditionally passive and lecture-based but the curriculum is currently under revision. The research considers class size, student-faculty ratios, course content, accreditation requirements and assessment methods to propose incorporation of PBL-type activities into existing lecture-based courses. The paper concludes by proposing a methodology for pre- and post- class learning assessment to evaluate the success of curriculum changes.
How to Cite
Chung, D., & Harnish, C. (2014). Methods for Developing Flexible Technical Knowledge in Architectural Education. ARCC Conference Repository.
Peer-reviewed Papers