Output Education

Education Blog

Teaching Studios

Teaching Studios

12 June, 2016

Studios involve (Reimer & Douglas, 2003):

  • Experiential learning, or learning by doing.
  • Lectures are not separate, but incorporated within a studio session; lectures are shorter, around 20 minutes.
  • Production of “real world” artifacts using “real world” design processes.
  • Students acting as active learners with instructors and TAs acting as resources.
  • Teacher-student and student-student collaborations.
  • Assessing student work based on both the process of designing artifacts and presentation of the final product.
  • Reflection on feedback on the design process and final product is an important part of learning.
  • Specialized studio rooms (often, but not always).

Purposes (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2011)

  • They can be integrated in most fields of study: arts, physical sciences, social sciences or engineering.
  • Studios give more creative avenues for instructors to attain their learning objectives.
  • Studio spaces give all students an opportunity to express themselves.
  • Studios have been shown to increase student involvement, motivation and retention.

Getting Started with Teaching Studios

  1. Studios vs Labs

The RPI Studio Model for Science and Engineering was developed in the 1990s. In this model, studio means “the integration of lecture, lab and discussion into one scheduled time period of the class held in a single room. It also de-emphasizes lectures and emphasizes hands-on team activities.” (Reimer & Douglas, 2003).

The RPI model has been known to be effective and slightly different to the studio models for the design fields. In this model, “the studio approach supplements regular lecture and discussion courses; it does not replace or condense them.” (Reimer & Douglas, 2003).

Studio courses are practice-oriented and typically need more time (Reimer & Douglas, 2003).

  1. Preparing to conduct studios

Decide what the studio learning outcomes are. What is it you want students to be able to do as a result of participating in the studio?

Refer to the following questions as prompts to design your studio (Lang, 1983):

  • Are you teaching both the lecture and studio components?
  • How many studios do you want to include?
  • What specific methods should the students be using?
  • What aspects of the process/exercise should be given and what should the student be designing?
  • What kinds of work should be done on a team basis and what on an individual?
  • What specific skills should be developed before and during a studio?
  • What will your role be?  (teacher, facilitator, critic)
  • How best can theory be integrated into your studio?
  • What procedural issues should be the focus of attention?
  • What substantive issues should be addressed?

Preview and prepare your space. While studio spaces in the arts and design-related fields have individual workstations, engineering studios may require multimedia classrooms with moveable tables and other classroom technologies that student teams share (Moody, 2011).

Often, studio projects involve collaborative learning in studio sessions. Think ahead about how you will incorporate group work.

  1. Working with TAs effectively

Whether working with one or multiple TAs, it is important to communicate the studio objectives and learning outcomes.

Invite TAs to contribute their ideas for teaching and learning and assessment for studios.

Give a training session so that all TAs are comfortable with the studio space and all its equipment.

Hold regular meetings on the progress of the studio.

Invite TAs to lead a studio session, and have TAs observe you and other TAs lead a studio for peer feedback on teaching effectiveness.

For larger studios with multiple TAs, arrange a plan for how TAs will help students such as by dividing up the room.

  1. Planning for the first session

Lay out the studio aims, objectives and strategies from the beginning.

Set the tone. Plan to share information about yourself and your approach to studios.

Find out about your students expectations and any past experiences with studios.

Give chances for students to get to know each other by using icebreakers.

If your studio course involves group work, start students off with group work on the first day.

Communicate and agree upon the duties of students and the role of the instructors and TAs.

To motivate collegiality, establish ground rules and expectations for collaboration and participation.