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Take the red pill: A journey into the rabbit hole of teaching informed research

Smith, CR (2016) Take the red pill: A journey into the rabbit hole of teaching informed research. In: Research Based Education 2016 , 2. (Research Based Education - Association of Architectural Educators 2016, 7th-9th April 2016, UCL, London).

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In one of the more well-known scenes in the film The Matrix the character Neo has to make a decision. He takes either a blue pill to return to the relative security of what he knows, or he takes a red pill to go on a journey into the depths of the unknown. Griffiths (2004) identifies four models of research-teaching dialogue: research-led, research-orientated, research-informed and research-based. This paper focuses on the latter, and argues that this approach is most aligned with the creative and divergent processes of design studio learning. In a discussion that links the themes of participation and production, studio teaching and its associated creative processes are explored as the generator of research. Arguably the term research informed teaching implies that research leads teaching, and therefore the approach described in this paper is made distinct by subverting the traditional term in favour of teaching informed research. Central to the teaching informed research approach are studio projects. They are the essential substance of the research methodology, and become the research data for analysis. The paper makes reference to two projects by the author that have adopted the teaching informed research method in the design studio – one undergraduate and one postgraduate – which have led to award-winning and international publications. Discussion about methodology and outcomes identifies some significant principles to consider – and lessons learnt – when designing teaching informed research projects, which are evaluated in depth. For example, a common thread linking both projects was constructing a brief for the students to explore contemporary issues in building-types that are currently facing contentious challenges. Also, in a divergent process – which lies at the essence of the design project – outcomes are unknowable, and the researcher must embrace and account for the fact that the project trajectories are unpredictable and unexpected. The morality of students conducting research for academics is also discussed; it is argued that the pedagogic integrity of each student’s project is of primary significance, but that the value of the research outcomes often lies in comparative analysis of the collective body of work produced in the studio. This paper will demonstrate that when structured in an appropriate way, such a journey into an unknown rabbit warren of unanticipated twists and turns, which is an inherent characteristic of this approach to the relationship between teaching and research, can result in rich outcomes. It also argues it is an approach most suited to the creative environment of the design studio.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Teaching informed research; Studio design projects; Studio pedagogy
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Art & Design
Publisher: The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 11:26
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2022 15:14
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/3405
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