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With history being an established course in design education and sparking creativity being one of design education’s primary objectives, questions arise as to: What forms of history teaching capture student interest? How can the lessons of history resonate with youth in ways that tie the past to the present? How can assignments spark excitement in students and engender a passion for the subject? And, where can faculty draw inspiration from in re-envisioning the role that history can play in their program and profession? Two interior design educators from the University of Minnesota share techniques, assignments, and pedagogies that respond to the above questions and help set a trajectory for both creatively teaching design history and sparking students’ interest and creative potential. Going beyond traditional methodologies and discourses around the teaching of history, these educators take a unique perspective and strive for a diverse set of objectives. Employing techniques such as digital games and free-hand sketching, they challenge students to engage with the material first hand. By tying a design project into a history course, they present students with the opportunity to conceive of ways to bridge the past, present, and future. Infusing history classes with creative and critical thinking that encompasses and responds to pressing social concerns reinforces the meaning of history classes and makes history relevant to students’ lives. Through this sharing, the authors aim to spark a dialogue across the disciplines around the teaching of history and makes history relevant to students’ lives. Through this sharing, the authors aim to spark a dialogue across the disciplines around the teaching of history and the renewed role it can play in design education.
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STIMULATING STUDENT INTEREST IN DESIGN HISTORY CLASSES
Tasoulla Hadjiyanni and Stephanie Watson Zollinger
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research
Copyright © 2010 Archnet-IJAR, Volume 4 - Issues 2-3 - July and November 2010 - (296-309)
296
Abstract
With history being an established course in design
education and sparking creativity being one of design
education’s primary objectives, questions arise as
to: What forms of history teaching capture student
interest? How can the lessons of history resonate with
youth in ways that tie the past to the present? How
can assignments spark excitement in students and
engender a passion for the subject? And, where can
faculty draw inspiration from in re-envisioning the role
that history can play in their program and profession?
Two interior design educators from the University
of Minnesota share techniques, assignments, and
pedagogies that respond to the above questions
and help set a trajectory for both creatively teaching
design history and sparking students’ interest and
creative potential.
Going beyond traditional methodologies and
discourses around the teaching of history, these
educators take a unique perspective and strive for
a diverse set of objectives. Employing techniques
such as digital games and free-hand sketching, they
challenge students to engage with the material rst
hand. By tying a design project into a history course,
they present students with the opportunity to conceive
of ways to bridge the past, present, and future. Infusing
history classes with creative and critical thinking
that encompasses and responds to pressing social
concerns reinforces the meaning of history classes and
makes history relevant to students’ lives. Through this
sharing, the authors aim to spark a dialogue across
the disciplines around the teaching of history and the
renewed role it can play in design education.
Keywords
Design history, creativity, pedagogy, sketching,
technology.
Introduction: History in Design Curricula
One of the few undisputable courses in design
curricula, history has survived as an instrumental
course despite changes in attitudes and
approaches towards the past (Attoe & Moore,
1980; Swenarton, 1987). The central position
of history in architectural and interior design
education is reected in journals devoted to
the subject, societies, extensive scholarship and
inquiry, as well as expectations outlined in both
elds’ accreditation standards (CIDA, 2009;
NAAB, 2009). In parallel, creative teaching is
inherent in these visual disciplines, where novelty
and imagination are used to grasp and explore
the past as well as understand the unfamiliar
(Boland, 2000; Jackson, 2005).
Special Volume: Design Education: Explorations and Prospects for a Better Built Environment
Ashraf M. Salama and Michael J. Crosbie (editors)
Practices
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Given the many facets of architectural and
interior design history that can be unraveled
(from chronologies to design characteristics,
ideas, and forces impacting designers—social,
political, cultural, technological, environmental,
economic, etc.), the challenges to those
teaching history are many. The proliferation of
books, articles, conferences, lms, and other
mediums available to faculty do not make
today’s teaching of design history any easier
than before. Questions abound: What forms of
history teaching capture student interest? How
can the lessons of history resonate with youth in
ways that tie the past to the present? How can
assignments and exercises be developed that
spark excitement in students and engender
a passion for the subject? And, where can
faculty draw inspiration from in re-envisioning
the role that history can play in their program
and profession? With answers to these questions,
faculty can enliven their material, strengthen
student engagement, and reframe the value of
history courses in students’ lives.
Part of the challenge of imbuing creative teaching
into history courses comes from transforming
established traditions of how to teach history
and what exercises to employ in the process
into ones that strike a cord with a student body
whose diversity has reached unprecedented
levels and for whom technological gadgets
are almost second nature. Typical history
assignments include investigating original works
or even obscure historical buildings’ proportions,
composition, use of the orders or decorative
elements, etc. through papers and models
that often adopt a comparative perspective—
comparing for example the domes of Santa
Maria del Fiore, Florence, and St. Peter’s, Rome
(Shvidkovsky & Chorban, 2003).
Yet, in this era of global interconnectedness,
technological dependence, and innovation as
well as emphasis on critical thinking and ethically
responsible design (Fisher, 2008), a meticulous
study of masterworks might not be the only
avenue for reaching aspiring architects and
interior designers. Critics, such as Creese note:
“Novice architects should be permitted to move
off into as many realms as their imaginations can
legitimately command...To have the students
correlate only one building type out of the
past to their new assignment, is to leave them
without the power of reconciling themselves
within a much larger inheritance” (1980, p.11-
12). Faculty have to re-envision exercises and
pedagogies adopted, translating them into ones
that account for students being able to take
ownership of the subject and use history as a tool
to nd answers to questions that emanate from
their own experiences and lived realities.
Additional critiques surrounding the teaching
of history also relate what is perceived by some
as a disconnection between history teaching
and practice. In the North American system,
the intersections of history and theory are strong
(Jarzombek, 1999/2000). The debate that arises
centers on the issue that, because of its ties to
theory and the humanities, history “becomes ever
more remote from the concerns of architectural
practice” (Jarzombek, 1999/2000, p.489).
Teaching in elds which are so closely linked to
practice, design faculty are thereby caught in
the struggle of having to dene ways by which
the ‘practical’ application of history lessons
can manifest in exercises and assignments. This
idea of bridging ‘learning’ and ‘applying’ has
been at the core of design history courses and
design curricula, albeit a difcult one to achieve
(Morgenthaler, 1995).
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Exploring ways to mediate between the two
opposing polarities of what history can be about
(theory or practice) is inextricably tied to dening
the role of history courses. Attoe and Moore (1980)
describe the two kinds of architectural history
courses that have prevailed in design education:
“One... studies buildings as expressions of the
society, with a goal of making the student a
better informed, more thoughtful person, better
fortied for the making of his own decisions. The
second... involves the felicitous presentation of
routes into mines where there might be found
a vast store of precedents and inspirations for
the students’ own designs” (p.1). They go on to
assert the need for an intertwining of the two
approaches. In this paper, we contribute to the
literature by sharing an exercise that leads to
both outcomes: students being better informed
about design history and nding inspiration for
their own designs.
Apart from how history relates to practice and
to design, an additional dimension of the role
of history courses is also under questioning: how
history relates to the present and the future. While
the place of the past is secure in history curricula,
some historians have called for an architectural
history marked by a critical interest in the present
as well as the past (Swenarton, 1987). Weaving
the present in courses already overloaded
with material that needs to be covered takes
creativity on the part of the instructor who is
called to broaden the class’s scope and expand
the ways by which to instill in students the lessons
of the past. Assignments that enable students to
make a difference, like the one we will be sharing
below, are a step in this direction.
Embarking on the endeavor of stimulating student
interest through history courses has an underlying
ethical element. Ethics are infused into a subject
whose teaching can be the “means of readjusting
the indispensable value systems, which can then
be used by following generations” (Creese,
1980, p.11). As Otto (1982, p. 29) also notes, “For
when the circumstance that contains history and
architecture is honest, forthright, and vigorous,
the interaction between them can be an ethical
achievement, one with the capacity to possess
architecture”. Additional questions that surface
revolve around how can faculty guide students
through what can be conicting political or
national agendas and their relevance to design
history? How much should faculty push a student
unwilling or uncomfortable with ‘differences’
in design—be those historical, cultural, social,
economic, etc.? And, how do faculties members
develop and execute exercises that might induce
ambivalent feelings, anger, and confusion?
Such transformative pedagogies, which imply
a change in consciousness that will have lasting
effects in ways that are recognizable by both the
person and others (Clark, 1993), ask of faculty to
critically reect on their teaching techniques and
knowledge of the subject matter as “the sincerity
of their intentions does not guarantee the purity
of their practice” (Brookeld, 1995, p.1).
As two interior design educators, this paper
becomes a medium by which we can start a
dialogue around expanding the pedagogical
approaches to the problem of teaching history
and stimulating interest, learning, engagement,
and creativity. Our goal in sharing the three
pedagogical techniques that follow is for
discourses around the teaching of history to
strengthen, becoming a forum through which
the question of “How can we effectively teach
history?” can begin to dissipate.
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Stimulating Interest: Three Pedagogical
Techniques
“History is not ‘what happened in the past;’
rather, it is the act of selecting, analyzing, and
writing about the past. It is something that is
done, that is constructed, rather than an inert
body of data that lies scattered through the
archives” (Davidson & Lytle, 1986, p.xix). It is this
dynamic nature of history that makes it exciting
for both instructors and students. As material that
is not static or stagnant, but instead it is subject
to interpretation and critical analysis (Flores,
2003), historical content can serve as the fertile
ground on which creativity and originality can
ourish, thereby turning the subject of history into
one of interest for the students and the faculty.
Creativity, originality, and student engagement
are often not among the course objectives
and outcomes one would typically associate
with large enrollments classes that heavily rely
on lectures and PowerPoint presentations,
such as interior design history classes. Guiding
our approach to the problem of using history
to stimulate interest and spark creativity is
Margaret Boden’s (1990) premise in her book
The Creative Mind, that “What makes the
difference between an outstandingly creative
person and a less creative one is not any
special power, but greater knowledge (in the
form of practiced expertise) and the motivation
to acquire and use it” (p. 24). Pushing creative
boundaries, we argue, must be grounded in an
in-depth exploration and understanding of the
issues surrounding the subject matter on hand.
Although a discussion of research methods is
beyond the scope of this paper, the techniques
shared below will shed light on the connections
among facets of knowledge, ways to acquire
knowledge, and creativity and how all are used
to both describe and push knowledge and
originality to the next level.
Drawing from over 20 years of combined
experience in teaching history, we have
developed pedagogical techniques by
which to stimulate student interest in interior
design history classes. Here, we share three of
these techniques: study tools that appeal to
technologically savvy students; sketching as
a form of engagement and reection; and a
semester-long project that challenges students
to examine their role in the world and the
difference they can make.
Prior to delving deeper into more detailed
descriptions of the three teaching techniques, it
is benecial to briey elaborate on the scope of
the two courses from which these pedagogies
are drawn. The rst course, taught by Stephanie
Zollinger, focuses on the study of European
interiors and furnishings including furniture,
textiles, and decorative arts. This course begins
with the study of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and
Roman civilizations, the societies that introduced
the classic idiom that consistently reappeared
over the following centuries and established
the framework for inquiry by which historical
study is analyzed in this eld. The framework is
then applied to the evolution of interiors and
furnishings in Italy, France, and England. The
second course, taught by Tasoulla Hadjiyanni,
focuses on the United States, covering 1650
to the present. The emphasis is on uncovering
the interconnectedness of design ideas and
how they can be appropriated or adapted
to match one’s own culture’s aesthetics and
needs. Exploring how design elements from the
Orient, Europe, and Central America are used
to create a distinctly American design identity,
class discussions unearth the multiplicity of
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factors that impact the design of interiors and
furnishings.
Although a combination of teaching
methodologies are used, including visits to
museum exhibits, lms, and guest speakers, the
primary means by which material is shared with
students is PowerPoint presentations that we
have developed. The objectives range from
sharpening design abilities by strengthening
students’ design comprehension and skills
through the study of historical precedents to
creating responsible designs, fostering critical
thinking, and learning teamwork. Ways to reach
these goals are by: increasing understanding of
the historical, environmental, socio-economic,
political, technological, artistic, and cultural
developments that affect the design and
manufacturing of furniture and interior design
elements; increasing understanding of the
meaning of objects within their own time and
across time; developing associations between
the past, the present, and the future; increasing
visual literacy of both furniture and interiors
and through that increasing students’ design
stimulants and perspectives on possible solutions
to design problems; developing a vocabulary
for discussing and analyzing historic furniture and
interiors; developing an understanding of the
chronology of historical periods in design and the
relationships between these periods; developing
an understanding of craftsmanship, materials and
technology as these relate to furniture and interior
design; and developing the ability to identify the
stylistic features corresponding to various historical
periods and to make generalizations based on
specic examples.
As a way to attain the above objectives and
guide students through the process of discovery,
lectures adopt a macro-to-micro approach,
shedding light on the forces impacting interiors
and furnishings as well as highlighting the work
of masters and specic masterpieces, such as
Palladio’s Villa Barbaro and Le Corbusier’s Villa
Savoye. It is the following three pedagogies
however, that infuse energy and excitement in
these classes, engaging students and stimulating
their creative potential: embracing technology,
sketching, and making a difference.
Embracing Technology
“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember.
Involve me and I understand.”Chinese Proverb.
The design history courses at the University
of Minnesota are embracing technology by
incorporating numerous computer games
into their classrooms. The history faculty agree
with research by Salen and Zimmerman
(2004) stating that games are effective tools
for learning because they offer students a
hypothetical environment in which they can
explore alternative decisions without the risk
of failure. Thought and action are combined
into purposeful behavior to accomplish a goal
(Prensky, 2001). Faculty members believe
playing games teaches students how to
strategize, to consider alternatives, and to
think exibly. Educational games are argued
to enhance learning, engage learners, and
provide learning methods that correspond with
students’ learning styles (Martinson, Zollinger
& Gardner, 2009). Different games appeal to
different people. This appeal may be based in
content, activity, or personal afnity for game
playing.
Interior design faculty member, Stephanie
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Zollinger, has developed numerous games
such as ashcards, matching, and a Jeopardy-
based game. The games are used to reinforce
concepts that are covered in the textbook as
well as in class lectures. For example, matching
games are used to reinforce vocabulary and
time periods. Several matching games have
been developed to help students identify design
motifs (see Figure 1), architectural elements,
styles of furniture, interiors, architecture, and
art. Students match images to appropriate
labels (i.e. vocabulary terms and time periods).
Matching games provide motivation by: a)
the opportunity to be played repeatedly until
success is achieved; b) immediate feedback; c)
allowing students to be in control of the game;
and d) enhancing student concentration.
These are particularly helpful when terms taught
are so ‘foreign’ to the students both in terms of
the vocabulary and spelling. Given that the
following history course relies on the knowledge
gained in this rst course, the matching games
make the learning process fun and effective.
A game based on the Jeopardy format has been
very successful as a way to review fundamental
concepts for unit tests. The Jeopardy session is
typically held the class period before an exam.
To play, the class is divided into teams of two to
three students each. Three teams are grouped
with a designated “master of ceremonies”
(MC). Subject headings parallel topics and time
periods covered in class and outside readings.
The game board is displayed via a computer
projection unit. Each team, in turn, selects a
category and a point value and must answer
the accompanying question. This format makes
it unnecessary for the MC to determine which
team “buzzed in” rst. Team members are
encouraged to discuss answers among
Figure 1: Matching games – motif identication. (Source:
Authors).
themselves, but a 30-second time limit is
enforced. If the answer is incorrect, one of
the other two teams has a chance to “steal”
the question and the points. The team with
the lowest point total has the rst opportunity
to steal. The team format is quite useful for a
number of reasons: it doesn’t put the individual
“on the spot” in front of classmates; it increases
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the chances of getting a correct answer; and
the students usually end up teaching each
other. Although some friendly competition
arises during the game, it is important to shift the
focus away from the competition and direct it
towards the learning/review process.
Additional emphasis must be placed on
reminding students that the purpose of playing
the game is not to provide a comprehensive
review. Rather, the game is used as a prod to
initiate the review process by going over the
basic concepts in the various time periods.
Overall, students are enjoying the games and
are constantly asking for more. By playing online
games, students claim that they understand
the history material better and retain it longer.
Student evaluations also reveal that the
technology-enhanced learning environment
has a positive inuence on student motivation,
through factors such as novelty, curiosity,
control, personal choice, and effort.
As in any learning situation, students are usually
more engaged when they face a challenge
that they feel they can meet. Therefore, the
games are developed to reect course content
and various skill sets. If the task is too hard, the
students will give up easily, and if it is too easy,
the student may become bored. Students also
benet from games that become progressively
more complex and difcult. Thus, Jeopardy is an
effective game as it allows students to begin at
different levels of challenge and gradually take
on more challenge.
In summary, games can be a valuable part of
an educational curriculum. As with all learning,
students need guidance and opportunities
to reect on their work. Games need to be
sufciently challenging to engage students,
and the level of challenge should be exible,
changing as students become more procient.
As students can attest, games are not just fun –
they can be powerful learning tools.
Sketching
During lectures that draw from PowerPoint
presentations, students in Hadjiyanni’s history
course are expected to sketch the design
examples shown. These sketches serve multiple
purposes. First, they can be helpful reminders
when students are studying for tests. Second,
they can serve as a reference book that students
can use later in their careers. Third, sketches
sharpen students’ critical engagement with the
subject because students are actively reecting
on which type of sketch to use to convey a
particular idea, choosing from a diverse range
of possibilities that include a whole piece of
furniture, building form, interior, elevation, etc.;
details, such as legs, feet, seats, ornamentation
style, etc; interior characteristics of buildings such
as moldings on openings, mantel pieces, stair
designs, etc.; exterior characteristics of buildings,
such as massing, elevations, window types,
railings, landscape elements, etc; conceptual-
type sketches that evoke the essence of a piece
or the design ideas behind it; artists’ renditions,
such as paintings and decorative arts pieces;
and other elements presented (Figure 2).
Lastly, sketching as a means of note-taking
allows assessment of a student’s ability to grasp
the concepts being taught and a student’s
comprehension of the design elements that
make up the design shown. Assessment through
sketching takes place both informally, during
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Figure 2: Students exercise critical thinking in deciding what
to sketch and how – by Anna Yust. (Source: Authors).
class time, and formally via tests. For example,
three students use the board to sketch images of
the varying ball-and-claw foot types prevalent
in different regions during the American
Chippendale period. The rest of the class follows
while commenting on what is missing or what the
major differences are (Figure 3). The test builds
on this lesson by asking students to use words
and a sketch to relate one of these designs. An
indication of the effectiveness of sketching in
teaching concepts and ideas is the fact that, in
spite of the level of detail and difculty involved
in this task, over two-thirds of the students in the
class answer correctly. Through this exercise,
students get exposure to the many facets of a
design that they have the power to manipulate
while creating identity and differentiation
among pieces—from overall form down to the
nails on a ball-and-claw foot.
Interacting with a furniture piece, an art work,
or a building shown makes history ‘present’
to the student, connecting the image on
the screen to their hand and ultimately their
cognition. This process of engagement lends a
tangible essence to a past that is now felt and
reconstructed. The patience that sketching
requires asks of the student to pay attention
to detail that would otherwise be lost if the
student relied only on words to capture the
lessons learned. With a visual to carry home the
message, students are better able to embed
the material taught not in a ‘reproduction-type’
manner but in an evocative recreation of what
the piece means to them, what stands out to
their critical eye.
Figure 3: Sketching as a means of assessing students’
comprehension – by Marissa Fredrickson. (Source: Authors).
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Making a Difference
As creating responsible designs and fostering
critical thinking are among the history classes’
objectives, the courses aim to engender an
understanding of the artistic, historical, social,
environmental, economic, political, cultural,
religious, technological, and intellectual forces
behind the design and manufacturing of
furniture and interior design elements. With that
understanding on hand, students in Hadjiyanni’s
class are challenged to consider how their
designs and they as designers can respond to
current forces and societal debates. Through
a semester-long assignment titled ‘Design
Manifestations Across Historical Time,’ students
develop associations between the past and the
present in order to plan for the future.
In teams of four, students select a design
problem to study across time and propose a
design solution that addresses current societal
needs. The design problem can be a building
type; an interior space; a part of building, like
a window; a piece of furniture; a wallpaper; a
fabric; a lighting xture, etc. and the historical
periods must fall in the domain covered by this
course, that is, after 1650. Three team members
study one period from the past while the
fourth, studies the present. The openness of the
assignment enables students to select something
they are passionate about, stimulating their
interest and engagement and challenging
them to reframe the role of designers in solving
present concerns.
As a semester-long project, this assignment
has two parts: a) a paper-like part that relates
the research phase of the assignment and
provides students with the knowledge needed
for an intellectual, sophisticated, and informed
understanding of the design problem they wish
to pursue and how others before them used it
to respond to the forces of their time, and b) a
design proposal part that includes key process
drawings in the form of plans, elevations,
sections, axonometrics, material selections,
details, and other forms of documentation as
well as rendered design development type
drawings in enough detail to comprehend the
design. In some cases, construction documents
and models are also part of the nal submission.
Because of its design component, this
pedagogical method ties design teaching to
the teaching of history.
Apart from picking the topic on which they
want to focus on, students are also encouraged
to be creative and take ownership of how they
will explore solutions to the design problem they
identied. These can again vary tremendously,
from spatial and material to artistic and
technological. Serving as a catalyst for students
to explore contemporary issues they care about
and their historical evolution, these projects
range from public art pieces, to web sites,
and a desk design. An example is Scream for
social change. Students studied feminism and
delved into the lives of women who changed
history. Reaching the present day, they were
concerned with the ‘negative’ female images
promoted by the media—i.e. extremely thin,
anorexic-looking models. Looking at the role
of women throughout history, they proposed a
series of statues to be placed on Nicollet Avenue
in downtown Minneapolis (Figure 4). Turned
into public art, these statues would juxtapose
‘media-promoted’ body images with those of
prominent ‘real’ women who would serve as
roles models for a healthy and positive body
image. Their pink color is eye-catching and their
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provocative casting is enhanced by them being
unclothed yet non-sexual (Figure 5).
While responding to a similar call, the need
to promote a positive and healthy body
image among young women, another team
employed digital design instead . For them, a
vanity was seen as a vehicle for reinforcing the
intersections of beauty and health (physical,
mental, and emotional). A mirror transforms into
a digital screen that includes links to updates on
a person’s well-being, categorized as: my mind,
my body, my spirit, and my health. Personalized
for the user, ‘my mark.com’ keeps the user
informed of everything, from news of the day
to inspirational and spiritual direction as well as
healthy choices. Being a mobile unit that caters
to a transient population, the vanity can be
transported as people move or change living
arrangements (Figure 6).
In a more traditional approach to furniture
design, members of a team were moved by
news that Minneapolis lacked behind other
major cities in high school students who graduate
on time. This disconcerting statistic prompted
them to investigate desks and their evolution.
The complexity of such an undertaking was
underscored by additional factors that impact
school attendance and performance, among
them the increasing numbers of students
suffering from Attention Decit Disorder (ADD)
and the alarming statistics for children with
autism. Cognizant of the special needs of
these students, the team drew inspiration from
Eero Aarnio’s Bubble chair, designed in 1968
Finland, and designed a ‘hanging chair’ that
can double as a study area. With its ability
Figure 4: SCREAM for social change – map of where the
statues will be located. (Source: Authors). Figure 5: Statue examples from SCREAM for social change.
‘Real’ women on the left, ‘media-promoted image’ on the
right. (Source: Authors).
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 4 - Issues 2-3 - July and November 2010
Stimulating Student Interest in Design History Classes
TASOULLA HADJIYANNI AND STEPHANIE WATSON ZOLLINGER
306
to move, this desk can enable children and
teens with ADD and autism to release energy
while still studying and be free from the ‘corner
desk prison’. Apart from a writing surface, the
chair-desk accommodates the technological
gadgets children are accustomed to using.
Figure 6: Vanity with digital mirror helps reframe notions of
beauty and health. (Source: Authors).
Conlusions: Closing Comments and
Implications
Although a lot has changed since the role of
history courses in supporting both the present
and the future direction of the interior design
profession was rst questioned (Jennings,
1998), much remains to be done. This sharing
of pedagogical techniques and exercises aims
to continue earlier dialogues; revitalize energies
devoted to re-thinking the role of history in
design education; and foster collaborations
among interested faculty. By rethinking the role
that history can play in the design curriculum,
students’ understanding of how the past
relates to the present and the future will be
strengthened. In these tough economic times,
when employers value “the ability to innovate
and be creative” (Zernike, 2010, p.3), directing
all courses to the objective of boosting creativity
and stimulating students’ interest, can also
translate to better employment opportunities
for graduates.
Developing new frameworks from which to
approach a subject with deeply embedded
roots can serve as a platform for new
perspectives to be shared. What once was a
traditionally white and male domain, history
is now also taught by women faculty as well
as faculty from non-western backgrounds.
Scholarship on the unique takes that women
and teachers from other cultures bring to the
teaching of history courses would be intriguing
and can illuminate aspects of history that were
previously ignored.
Intriguing would also be the development
of pedagogies that stimulate the interest of
students from diverse backgrounds – ethnic,
racial, and age differences are some of the
variables that come into play. Assignments that
allow students to experience the continuity of
historical change and perceive design in a
holistic sense and within varying contexts can
be more meaningful to students from varying
racial, ethnic, and historical backgrounds. The
question of “Whose history is being taught?”
has never been more pertinent. Concerns have
long been raised about the Eurocentric nature
of interior design and architectural history and
the use of conventional understandings of the
notion of culture (Akkach, 2002; Hillenbrand,
2003). Coupled with the need to engender
students’ global and multicultural perspectives
(Dutton, 1991), a rethinking of history’s breadth
and focus becomes adamant.
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 4 - Issues 2-3 - July and November 2010
Stimulating Student Interest in Design History Classes
TASOULLA HADJIYANNI AND STEPHANIE WATSON ZOLLINGER
307
With ‘capturing student interest’ guiding the
revisions of design curricula, administrators and
educators can search for ways to incorporate a
broader and more global overview of historical
precedents: the mosques of Isfahan, the towers
of Yemen, the temples of India, Japanese
and Chinese castles and palaces, traditional
building types from Albania, and Mongolian
yurts. Capitalizing on students’ travels abroad,
international students or students from immigrant
families, and students’ passion for another
place/culture can be mediums through which
to creatively expand students’ horizons.
In parallel, at a time when interdisciplinary
inquiry is a driving force in the missions of
many major institutions, another avenue of
exploration would be to investigate the role of
history courses and history itself in forming and
sustaining collaborative partnerships. Such an
undertaking increases chances that students’
interest would be engendered for those with
majors and minors in different elds, particularly
since at the graduate level, many students
come from non-design backgrounds. Given that
design schools often offer professional programs
at both the graduate and undergraduate
levels, explorations of what should be taught
at each level would also enable faculty and
administrators to propose a holistic set of
objectives that builds on years of knowledge
and exposure.
The lessons drawn from the above pedagogies
point to exibility on the part of the instructor
being crucial for students’ engagement and
interest to be nurtured. Technologically-based
design solutions for example might have to be
communicated via sample web pages instead
of a model. Time must also be allotted for syllabi
revisions and for the development of teaching
techniques and exercises that capture students
‘in the moment’ and challenge their creative
and critical thinking skills. Allowing students to
fully engage with a subject/topic they believe
in or have concerns about, makes the study of
history relevant to their lives. At the same time
though, it challenges the instructors to open
their denitions of what history is and the role it
can play in design education.
Fascinating opportunities to further the reach
of history courses are presented with on-line
course offerings. Being lecture-based and
relying on digital imagery, history courses are
among the most suitable means for expanding
to a nationwide/international audience. Given
the current economic climate and the need
to attract more students, history courses lend
themselves to serving as income generators and
as vehicles for broadening a student body. How
this would impact faculty’s ability to stimulate
student interest would need to be redened
and new forms of relationship-building must be
put in place. How for example, do you engage
a student via cyber space?
In closing, if design educators are to meet the
needs of today’s students, strategies for how to
engage these students in the learning process
are essential. Hands-on learning activities, such
as digital games and free-hand sketching can
increase the retention and comprehension of
course material. Opportunities to experiment
with ideas, develop concepts, and integrate
personal insights and interpretations into
solutions that make a difference, can build in
students the condence they need to develop
their own answers. We see this paper as a step
in the process of re-framing what history can be
Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 4 - Issues 2-3 - July and November 2010
Stimulating Student Interest in Design History Classes
TASOULLA HADJIYANNI AND STEPHANIE WATSON ZOLLINGER
308
about and how it can be taught. With so much
to be done and so many avenues to explore,
we are eager to continue these dialogues.
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Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research - Volume 4 - Issues 2-3 - July and November 2010
Stimulating Student Interest in Design History Classes
TASOULLA HADJIYANNI AND STEPHANIE WATSON ZOLLINGER
309
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Tasoulla Hadjiyanni
Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor
in the Interior Design program at the University of
Minnesota. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture
and a Master of Science in Urban Development
and Management from Carnegie Mellon University
as well as a doctoral degree in Housing Studies
from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral work
led to her book The Making of a Refugee: Children
Adopting Refugee Identity in Cyprus (Praeger, 2002),
which established her scholarship’s focus in the
interrelationship among design, culture, and identity
under conditions of displacement. Hadjiyanni is now
investigating the role of residential environments in
cultural identity construction among ve of Minnesota’s
new immigrant and minority groups: Hmong, Somali,
Mexicans, African-Americans, and American-Indians.
An advocate for culturally sensitive designs and an
internationalized curriculum, she disseminates her
teaching pedagogies, theoretical and practical
research ndings, and outreach activities in leading
interdisciplinary academic journals, conferences, and
exhibits. She can be contacted at thadjiya at umn.
edu
---------------------------------------------
Stephanie Watson Zollinger
Stephanie Watson Zollinger, Ed.D., has been involved
with higher education for over 20 years. She is
currently an Associate Professor in the Interior Design
program at the University of Minnesota. She holds a
Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree
in Interior Design from Kansas State University as well
as a doctoral degree in Adult Education from the
University of Arkansas. Zollinger’s research focuses on
the learning styles of interior design students and the
implications for teaching, advising, and recruitment.
Zollinger has published and disseminated her work in
internationally recognized journals, conferences, and
workshops. Prior to the University of Minnesota, Zollinger
taught courses in interior design at the University of
Southern Mississippi and the University of Arkansas.
Thesis
Full-text available
Design education needs to adapt to a fast-changing world. Graduates are now expected to have a wider array of education and skills-sets to meet new demands. Educators are challenged to keep up with the ongoing changes in technology, materials, and user behavior. Therefore, the different applications of pedagogical approaches are required to keep up with all the uncertainties of the ways people live, work, and learn. As interior architecture pedagogy is trying to keep up with the changing demands of the profession; a major issue reveals in the studio space that supports these pedagogies. As pedagogies need to cater to the changing needs of the profession; studio spaces need to accommodate the changing needs of pedagogy. The research reveals that the existent gap between education and practice can be bridged using different pedagogical practices that immerse students in the profession before graduation. The study aims to investigate the interchangeable relationship between the educational field, and the profession of interior architecture in relation to studio spaces. This exploratory study investigates pedagogies that match up to the current needs of the profession - vertical studios, live projects, game-based studios, interdisciplinary studios, and virtual studios. Pedagogical practices are conducted in studio spaces to explore the needs of an exemplar studio that accommodates the idea of change. The study is considered a toolkit for interior architecture educators for immersive design pedagogy and the factors of their success. Experiments were conducted by the researcher on each pedagogical application to a thorough how-to guide for educators. The thesis is also a tool kit for interior architects who are designing studio spaces that are sustainable to the changing demands and empower educators to innovate.
Article
Full-text available
This article proposes a change in the teaching of architectural history to improve its potential for architectural education. A study of architectural history textbooks reveals the inadequacy of relying on the chronological organization of history. Instead, systems theory is recommened as the framework for history teaching. This should be complemented by a new understanding of the role of historical time in generating change and by a teaching method that responds to the breakup of metaphysical foundations. A different way of framing knowledge and a greater exploitation of students' intuitive capabilities will support these changes. This model is expected to better integrate history into the architectural curriculum.