Pedagogical Measures to Integrate Design, Planning, and Social Sciences

The individual assessments of both TUD/TUM regional design courses reveal that the studios are both integrative but in different ways. In the following part, we try to explain how the assessment results from the previous sections are linked to four main pedagogical dimensions: 1) the institutional setting of the studio; 2) the relation between research and design; 3) the learning objectives; and 4) the assessment strategy. Table 21.5 provides a summary of the pedagogy of both courses.

Institutional setting - Regional development education at both TUM and TU Delft is based upon design studios. These so-called problem-based learning environments are very common in disciplines employing design approaches, first and foremost in architectural education, but also in the form of study projects in planning education. At both universities, this is not surprising as both studios are integrated into a model of planning education, which is organizationally tied to the local architecture programs. We have to point out that TU Delfts urbanism education receives predominantly students with an architectural background,10 while as mentioned earlier TUM s program is open for students from all spatially relevant disciplines, including architecture, planning, and social sciences.

Research and design - While integrating students from architecture and planning has never been a big challenge, students holding an undergraduate degree in social sciences struggle with

Table 21.5 Synopsis of the pedagogy of studio courses at TUD and TUM

TUD Studio

TUM Studio

Institutional setting

Master's programme in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences (Track: Urbanism) admitting primarily students holding a bachelor degree in architecture, and urban design St planning

Interdisciplinary Master's programme in Urbanism admitting students holding bachelor degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and geography

Research - design

Developing an evidence-based, long-term (25 years) spatial vision and development strategy for an urban region in the Netherlands

Developing an evidence-based long-term (30 years) spatial development strategy for a subarea of the Munich metropolitan region

Learning objectives

After course completion, students shall be able to develop in a team an integrated spatial vision and strategy, supported by a portfolio of policies and strategic interventions

After course completion, students shall be able to work collaboratively in groups of designers, planners, and social scientist on regional development issues

Assessment strategy

Written project report, a group presentation in front of teachers, guest critics, stakeholders from the region, and a written individual reflection on the projecl contents and group work

Three group presentations in front of teachers, guest critics, and local stakeholders

Source: Authors.

developing design solutions. Social science students lack visualization and (to some extent) creativity skills and methods. This can create tension between the students especially towards the end of the semester when producing graphics and maps becomes the main task. Social science students often feel that they cannot contribute to the work at that stage and architects and planners feel left alone with the work. Additionally, social science students struggle with making proposals that do not unambiguously derive from the analysis. Herein lies the biggest challenge and potential. While architects and planners might propose without hesitation solutions for problems they have not really understood yet, social scientists could help the group to stay focused on evidence-based proposals. The best design proposals (both at TUM and TUD) are usually from those groups that are able to support their vision, design theme, and design solutions with strong empirical analysis and research work. It is exactly the connection between research and design that builds strong, logical, and convincing solutions, arguments and narratives. In conclusion, an equipollent integration of design, planning, and social sciences aspects requires bringing together students of different disciplinary backgrounds, but also requires a great methodological effort (Buis, Post, and Visser 2016).

Learning objectives - The objectives of both courses are quite similar: small groups of students are asked to develop spatial strategies — in the case ofTUD somewhat more design and solution- focused, and in the case ofTUM somewhat more problem- and research-focused — that they present to experts and local stakeholders during and at the end of the semester. After course completion, students shall be able to understand the shortcomings of established planning approaches on the regional scale and be able to develop better integrated design strategies. These learning objectives should be universal to all students, but are in fact for interdisciplinary student groups: in the case ofTUM’s course, very different tor individual students. While design students may be able to develop and visualize ideas, social science students may understand more easily the systemic implications of inventions.The achieved learning objectives are based on the previous knowledge and skills of the student. This becomes especially apparent when students have to work alone as part of the Master’s thesis later on in their studies. Students have obtained very different abilities as part of an interdisciplinary course and the Masters theses often have a different nature.

Assessment strategy - Delft with its quite homogeneous group of students, has for all its students one rubric assessing the group vision (40 percent), the group strategy (30 percent), the group performance (10 percent), and the individual performance (20 percent). But when the learning objectives differ between students from various disciplinary backgrounds (as in theTUM studio), the assessment of those objectives should be adjusted accordingly — in other words individualized (towards disciplinary background). Assessment criteria should also be formulated in terms of interdisciplinary attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors.These are criteria which go beyond a certain discipline. But this is easier said than done. Little educational scientific knowledge is available on how to assess interdisciplinary education (Klaassen 2018). Most studio courses — also at TUM — overcome this issue by assessing the groups’ performances and not those of individual students. While this is perhaps not fully in line with educational rigor, it is common practice especially in planning programs. However, this consequently results in relatively low failing and drop-out rates, a leveling off of examination results, and a constant critique of (very) good students in underperforming groups.

 
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