Teaching Methodologies



Please use this link to download my archive of my Building Tech I course syllabi from 2012-2016 as well as an assessment study and course change report I prepared as part of the 5th Year Fellowship of the Living Lab Grant: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1A0eXkYTvPzhHJLZ6Bs85JFvImcDTQtsp

This stage of the fellowship program was focused on incorporating GEN ED learning objectives into courses and developing a methodology for changing courses to improve GEN ED and discipline specific learning outcomes.

The report documents the data we collected and the rationale for revisions to the assignments and methods for teaching the technical content.  The course changes were carefully reviewed and discussed at a series of course coordination meetings with the faculty teaching Building Tech I ( including Anthony Romeo, Samuel Scott, Robert Zagaroli, Lynn Gernert) where we came to a consensus on adjustments. Among the most significant adjustments was the change of strategy from readings assessed through weekly quizzes to direct assessment of the student notes and annotations of the reading material as well as through student presentations on the reading material. We also discussed alternatives to the traditional lecture to stimulate active learning in our classrooms.

Another level of review and discussion was at the First Year course meetings where faculty discussed how to coordinate better the drawing skills development of first year student and how Building Tech I could better support the Foundations courses.

Many of these issues facing Building Tech I were discussed as well at the NAAB committee meetings where we formulated the need for an Intro to Architecture Course, especially to address the Gen Ed challenges confronting incoming first year first semester students.

The Building Tech I faculty also collaborated with the READ Program, providing data for the Provost’s office on reading skills development at City Tech and strategies to improve reading.

Some of these issues are now being addressed by Intro to Architecture, but I recommend we continue to pay close attention to the reading skills and note taking skills of our first year students. These are critical foundations for the development of technical knowledge.


Here is the kink to an archive of Building Tech II course syllabi: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1shewFSQgoDJLX-N50vSy5sX1iBp5LKYs

Our most recent adjustments to this course build on the adjustments we developed for Building Tech I. This includes assessment of reading through text annotations, sketches, and notes rather than quizzes.

We are also applying place based education principles and active learning through on-site seminars incorporating inquiry and sketching that bring students to sites of concrete and steel frame construction, examples of different structural typologies, a variety of exterior wall installations in progress, and the significance of circulation and stair design in public buildings. This approach builds the students’ understanding of the connection between their learning about architecture and the city as a laboratory for learning, facilitating self learning habits focused on paying attention to the built environment around them and using their skills of careful observation.

Also, we are experimenting with the value of having the students hand draft each assignment first, do hand drawing analysis of the case study plan elements and section elements, and then translating the assignments into AutoCAD, with the students building the dwg file from scratch following the syllabus requirements. I believe this will be an excellent model for the revised Building Tech I.

We will need to assess at the end of the semester, but so far I am seeing clearly that hand drafting reveals students’ understanding or struggles with orthogonal drawing, the level of rigor of their work (dimensional accuracy, drawing conventions, line weights) the care they take in executing work and submitting it (well packaged drawing submission, ordered and titled versus unorganized, poorly packaged submissions and torn edges to the paper, lack of lettering and titles….)

The use of gridded buildings is proving to be valuable, as it offers a clear organizational structure to the students for their drawings but also their thinking about structure and buildings as organized systems. We have used a range of case study buildings for this course, some more complex and subtle and some more straight forward, but all of the case studies are World Class Grade A architecture that have historical significance. We have also recently incorporated building types (houses and libraries) that coordinate with Design III. This offers students another layer of precedent study to enhance their design studio work and to help them make connections between design and building technology.

We are also running a Gen Ed assessment with the AIR office this semester measuring Life Long Learning.

Graphic Analysis Examples as Templates for Student Urban Analysis Assignment:

brooklyn_downtown_BHS_block typology study_1 I develop my own clear and graphically strong samples of my assignments in order to communicate both the content of the assignment as well as the quality required for the presentation of the assignment. I have found that student expectations and performance are improved when they have a clear example as a model for their work. They also respond to the Professor’s effort of doing a sample execution of an assignment with greater enthusiasm and a higher level of professionalism.



Samples of Chalk Board / White Board In Class Demonstration Drawing

Drawing actively while discussing building components, relationships, and details is a important part of my teaching methodology. The students first of all see me performing directly and can appreciate my ability to investigate buildings both intellectually and through drawing simultaneously. I ask questions about what we should add next to the drawing, inviting the students to be active participants of the investigation. Drawings become less opaque to the students if they can follow their development step by step from the blank slate.