Design Studio as Signature Pedagogy

Design Studio: both a physical space (an actual place) and the mode of engagement (pedagogical strategy). a third definition assigns studio the meaning of the place of work activity as in the artist’s studio. it is this particular aspect the educational studio attempts to replicate.

Signature Pedagogies: the best teaching ideas that are most likely to be developed in very specific subject matter contexts (Laurillard) or ubiquitous forms of teaching and learning, which are associated with particular professions (Shulman). Shulman (2005) also identifies three further dimensions that characterize a signature pedagogy:

  • a surface structure of operational acts of teaching and learning
  • a deep structure of assumptions about how best to impart knowledge and skills and
  • an implicit structure as a set of beliefs, values, and attitudes (=hidden curriculum)

For the architecture Design Studio Signature Pedagogy is expressed through:

  • uncertainty: DS is an environment of unpredictability
  • public student performance: a social environment in which students are expected to present their work
  • lack of a front to the classroom
  • experimentation
  • collaboration
  • practicing of skills: especially communicating through imagery
  • focus on an artifact
  • dialogue: as in the desk crit (private) or the final crit (public)
  • instruction: teacher modes of delivery¬† and presentation
  • crtique: a quintessential character of the signature pedagogy of the studio



Crowther, Ph., 2013, ‘Understanding the signature pedagogy of the design studio and the opportunities for its technological enhancement’, in Journal of Learning Design, Vol. 6, No 3, pp. 18-28

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