Teaching informed research (TIR)



DS teaching as a generator of research/ it is studio teaching and the design processes associated with it that lead the research/ central to this approach are studio projects and they become the focus of critical analysis – student projects are the research data/ A popular perception of the research-teaching nexus is that teaching benefits through the curriculum being informed by research – even if it is conducted independently – thus ensuring that content is at the forefront of knowledge/ research and teaching can relate to one another in a variety of ways – often influenced by the discipline context and field of inquiry (Griffiths)

  • Project A: Book repository

20-week design module/ exploration of the role of books/ term library was avoided/ physical books were highly significant in every project, in the majority of
the students’ projects they were an expression of a larger concept as much as for reading –such as their cultural symbolism, several projects explored the wider and more
complex roles libraries play as an important civic space and place of social interchange
within the public realm, / the projects ranged from a place for storytelling, to a place for writing, a third place, a meteorological observatory, a book museum, and an archive/

  • Project B: Terraced house 

six weeks module/students were asked to select one of three typical UK housing types – an urban block, terraced, or detached, semi-detached to explore the potential of this typology to accommodate contemporary forms of living, whilst examining the interrelated priorities of space, affordability and environmental sustainability/ rather than just considering space standards quantitatively numerous students explored it as a qualitative concept/ the family unit was often perceived as a plastic concept, flexing and changing significantly over time

research may not be able to feed into and inform the projects that are running but including student projects in tutor research is considered positive if students stick to program brief/ get acknowledged for publishing their work/ and avoid satisfying the idiosyncratic research interests of their tutors. in a relevant survey all students responded positively to the prospect of having their projects included in research papers



Smith, Ch., 2017. Take the red pill: a journey into the rabbit hole of teaching informed research. In Charrette 4(1) Spring 2017

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The benefits of Teaching Commons

teachingcommons 2

Pedagogy: In order to counter institutional antipathy towards studio based learning an effective and inclusive counter argument, grounded in educational research from wider scholarly sources, could offer a common position for all schools in presenting the studio as a unique, authentic and invaluable learning environment.

Resources: An Architectural Learning Commons could share knowledge and initiatives to drive economies of time, money and effort through open and constructive collaboration through:

  • the sharing of resources
  • reciprocal arrangements for staff exchanges
  • shared use of expertise, contacts and physical spaces
  • the co-operative funding of visiting speakers from overseas

Policy: a collaborative and concerted position could strengthen a collective bargaining position for schools of architecture, in contrast to the currently divisive and target-driven competition between institutions

Ethics: a collective architectural education constitutes a Scholarship of Integration in support of valuable, relevant and good work/ schools will not necessarily lose their distinctive values and philosophies by sharing common knowledge, skills, resources
and expertise with one another/ further collaborative educational research would benefit the critical development of architectural pedagogies to address recalcitrant problems of traditional teaching methods



Holgate, P., Sara, R., 2014. Towards a learning commons for architecture. In Charrette 1(1) Summer 2014

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From Boyer’s Report to Teaching Commons

Teaching Commons

Boyer Commission Report Goals (1995):

  1. make research-based learning the standard: learning is based on discovery guided by mentoring rather than on the transmission of information/ inherent in inquiry-based learning is an element of reciprocity: faculty can learn from students as students are learning from faculty/ Involving Undergraduates in the Research Process/ A Mentor for Every Student/ Internships
  2. construct an inquiry-based freshman year: The first year of a university experience needs to provide new stimulation for intellectual growth and a firm grounding in inquiry-based learning and communication of information and ideas/ Seminar Learning/ Block Scheduling/ Remediation Before Admission
  3. build on freshman foundation: The freshman experience must be consolidated by extending its principles into the following years. Inquiry-based learning, collaborative experience, writing and speaking expectations need to characterize the whole of a research university education/ Long-term Mentorship/ Integrating Transfer Students
  4. remove barriers to interdisciplinary educationBreaking the Disciplinary Molds
  5. link communication skills and course work: Undergraduate education must enable students to acquire strong communication skills, and thereby create graduates who are proficient in both written and oral communication/ Communication in Every Course 
  6. use information technology creatively: Because research universities create technological innovations, their students should have the best opportunities to learn state-of-the-art practices—and learn to ask questions that stretch the uses of the technology/ The Electronic Classroom/ Enriching Teaching Through Technology
  7. culminate with a capstone experience: The final semester(s) should focus on a major project and utilize to the fullest the research and communication skills learned in the previous semesters.
  8. educate graduate students as apprentice teachers: Research universities must redesign graduate education to prepare students for teaching undergraduate students as well as for other professional roles/ Reshaping Professional Training/ Restoring Communication/ Solving the Teaching Crisis
  9. change faculty reward systems: Research universities must commit themselves to the highest standards in teaching as well as research and create faculty reward structures that validate that commitment/ Synergy of Teaching and Research/ Evaluating Teaching
  10. cultivate a sense of community: Research universities should foster a community of learners. Large universities must find ways to create a sense of place and to help
    students develop small communities within the larger whole/ Diversity as an Asset/ Linking Commuters and Residents

Building Community Report goals (1996):

  1. an enriched mission: whereby students are empowered with a duty to promote a wider agenda of beauty in support of an enriched environment and society
  2. diversity with dignity: promoting inclusive, varied, accessible and creative educational environments
  3. standards without standardization: maintaining diversity in provision and offer while maintaining rigorous, fair and open professional and educational standards
  4. connected curriculum: fusing the scholarships of teaching, inquiry and engagement with other communities within and outside the academy and the profession
  5. climate for learning: providing learning communities, which are supportive, transparent and sharing of common purposes between students, academics, support staff and professionals
  6. unified profession: seeking closer collaboration and understanding between the academy and the architectural profession
  7. service to the nation: establishing an ethical and socially activist agenda in architectural education for the betterment of society and the environment.

Boyer 1996: Four forms of scholarship: of Discovery/ of Integration/ of Application/ of Teaching

Glassick et al. 1997, SIX QUALITATIVE STANDARDS FOR THE IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT OF SCHOLARSHIP: Clear Goals/ Adequate Preparation/ Appropriate Methods/ Significant results/ Effective Presentation/ Reflective Critique

SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) : movement that was developed to encourage critically reflective inquiry into educational methods and theories for the promotion of successful students learning/ philosophical shift from teaching to learning/

Teaching Commons: an academic space whereby ‘communities of educators committed to pedagogical inquiry and innovation come together to exchange ideas about teaching and learning and use them to meet the challenges of educating students for personal, professional, and civic life (Huber and Hutchings, 2005)/ the title has been imbued with contemporary resonance with the rise of Creative Commons

Remember post


  • The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1995,  REINVENTING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities, available here
  • Boyer, E.L., 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: PRIORITIES OF THE PROFESSORIATE. Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching.
  • Boyer, E.L., Mitgang, L.D., 1996. Building community: a new future for architecture education and practice: a special report. Princeton: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Holgate, P., Sara, R., 2014. Towards a learning commons for architecture. In Charrette 1(1) Summer 2014
  • Glassick, Ch. E., Huber, M.T., Maeroff, G.I. 1997. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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Linkages between research and teaching

Classification of disciplines

  • BIGLAN: hard pure – soft pure – hard applied – soft applied
  • KOLB: abstract reflective – concrete reflective – abstract active – concrete active

Linkages between research and teaching:

  • In terms of CONTENT: the linkages are more difficult to enact in hard disciplines because of the more hierarchical and cumulative construction of knowledge
  • In terms of SOCIAL PROCESS: it is the other way around as students from hard disciplines often work with staff as part of their research
  • In terms of PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: these bodies may influence the attitudes of staff and students towards research-teaching links, particularly where they accredit entry into the profession by controlling the curriculum



Healey, M., 2005. Linking research and teaching: exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In Barnett, R (ed) (2005) Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. McGraw Hill / Open University Press, pp.67-78

Research in teaching


  • university research often detracts from the quality of teaching (Pocklington and Tupper 2002: 7)
  • courses taught by those at the cutting edge of research will necessarily be of higher quality than those taught by those merely using the research results of others – whatever the apparent quality of their style of delivery (Lee 2004: 9)
  • there is clear evidence from a range of studies in different types of institutions of students valuing learning in a research-based environment (Jenkins 2004: 29)
  • students are likely to gain most benefit from research, in terms of depth of learning and understanding, when they are also involved in research (Healey and Roberts 2004)

A range of terms is used in the literature, often interchangeably, to describe the research-teaching nexus. Griffiths (2004) suggests that a distinction might be made between teaching which is predominantly:

  • Research-led: where students learn about research findings, the curriculum content is dominated by staff research interests, and information transmission is the main teaching mode;
  • Research-oriented: where students learn about research processes, the curriculum emphasizes as much the processes by which knowledge is produced as learning knowledge that has been achieved, and staff try to engender a research ethos through their teaching;
  • Research-based: where students learn as researchers, the curriculum is largely designed around inquiry-based activities, and the division of roles between teacher and student is minimized
  • Research-tutored: top left quadrant, which, although not recognized by Griffiths (2004), is student-focused and emphasizes research content (see image above)

research is context specific and multidisciplinary rather than pure and discipline based; it has social relevance rather than being hypothesis led; it uses fuzzy, rather than empirically based data; it is problem solving rather than deductive. In what might be termed the commodification of knowledge, how knowledge is managed, synthesized and adapted become as important as knowledge itself (Jenkins and Zetter, 2003: 11)



Healey, M., 2005. Linking research and teaching: exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In Barnett, R (ed) (2005) Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. McGraw Hill / Open University Press, pp.67-78

Image available here

From Mode 2 to Mode 3 Knowledge


On one hand there is the educational task of preparing students for a complex world. On the other, there is the educational task of coming to a position where one can prosper in a situation of multiple interpretations where incomplete judgements or decisions must be made either because of a. the press of time, b. insufficient evidence, c. outcomes are unpredictable/ all above forms are not mutually exclusive and there is no security available

Mode 2 Knowledge responds to task no 1, thus, problem-solving in situ/creative knowing in situ. In the end one has to rely on one’s capacity for seeing a way forward in a particular setting. This form of knowledge is necessarily creative because of its particularity. However, the character of the complex world must always elude our attempts to understand it and the central idea of Mode 2 Knowledge that with sufficient creativity and imagination a solution can be designed is problematic.

Mode 3 Knowledge beckons that knowing the world is a matter of producing epistemological gaps. Knowing produces further uncertainty. In supercomplexity, the world is not just unknowable but also indescribable. So, the educational task is not an epistemological task but an ontological one; it is the task of enabling individuals to prosper amid supercomplexity.



Barnett, R., 2004. Learning for an unknown future. In Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 23, No. 3, August 2004.

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Complexity – Supercomplexity


unknown-ness/un-certainty due to: a. the pace of change/from the sheer multiplication of entities/pertinent evidence/relevant knowledge & the overload of information, b. a sense of an unknown world/ ignorance explosion, it is a radically unknowable world, c. internal changes/ personal sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fragility, chaos, destabilized world.

complexity speaks to a feature of systems such that the interactions between their elements are unclear, uncertain and unpredictable (…) not just an overload of entities that exhaust the resources available but a situation in which the very engagement with such set of entities is liable to set off a chain of incalculable events

supercomplexity challenges could never be resolved at least not in ways similar to those of complexity (…) open-textured questions that yield interpretations that are not just different but incompatible (…) university should engage with life-world challenges and thereby pedagogical challenges that arise from the age of supercomplexity as in “learning from an unknown future”



Barnett, R., 2004. Learning for an unknown future. In Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 23, No. 3, August 2004.

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