You want me to do what? Teach a studio class to seventy students?

Joanne Tippett, Angela Connelly, Fraser How

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Amidst widespread recognition of the need to enhance the student experience, built environment educators are facing increased pressure on their time and resources for teaching. Studio-based education, in which students apply ideas to a real site, has been seen as key to a well-rounded education in the built environment and planning professions. At the same time, traditional methods require a high degree of tutor time to be spent with students, increasingly impractical given resource constraints and increased class sizes. Drawing on research exploring the challenges posed by sustainable development and participatory processes in ecological planning, a core second year studio-based module at the University of Manchester was re-designed so as to meet these challenges. Key elements of the redesign include: use of the hands-on toolkit, Ketso, for creative thinking and synthesis of ideas within and across groups; mapping and layered spatial analysis; simulating aspects of community consultation, without directly contacting the community; effective use of Graduate Teaching Assistant time in giving feedback and assistance to students; and including an individual reflective learning journal as part of the assessment. The innovations trialled in this module enable an interactive studio experience, with a high degree of feedback, to be created for large classes. Feedback from students has been very positive. The innovations in this module re-design described in this paper jointly won the 2011 Excellence in Teaching Prize of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-53
Number of pages28
JournalJournal for Education in the Built Environment (JEBE)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • professional skills development
  • education for sustainability
  • large group teaching
  • studio pedagogy
  • planning education


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