Academic Service Learning with Architectural Students
Jason Montgomery: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/members/jmontgomery07/profile/edit/group/3/
Dept. of Architectural Technology School of Technology and Design
ARCH 1130 Building Technology I https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/montgomeryarch1130fall2013/
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
For this course section in the fall of 2013 I developed an Academic Service Learning project that became the major project for that semester. The project was focused on the Red Hook Winery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a waterfront business that was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy. The overarching goal of the project was to document the property, learn of the problems inherent to the property and its location, and to provide the business owner with ideas to protect the business from future storm events that may cause flooding.
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
In addition to the course learning objectives, there were four learning objectives identified specifically for this project:
1. Develop an understanding of the value of service and engagement in a local community. (Gen Ed)
2. Generate clear and concise talking points to guide oral presentations at community meetings. (Gen Ed)
3. Apply professional skills in real life situations. (Skill)
4. Understand and apply resilient construction techniques. (Skill)
Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?
This project ran from week 7-week 15 of the semester. The lecture series during the course of the project was adjusted so that the lectures supported the project work. A few lecture topics were adjusted to better align with the project.
The project work consumed 50% of class time during the course of the 9 weeks. The students were required to continue drawing work outside of class, usually spending 5 hours per week outside class time. Also, some students spent out of class time re-visiting the site to more carefully document existing conditions.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
The most important preparation for this activity, and the most challenging, is to identify and negotiate with a community partner that fits with the context and content of the course. As it can be difficult to find a willing partner, it is important to be creative; for example other faculty, students, an/or staff could become the community partner for the project.
The instructor needs to help the students understand the professionalism required when they are presenting themselves to the community partner. The instructor also needs to help the students manage the process in order to ensure the project goals are met on schedule, as the stakes for this type of project are higher than normal. The higher stakes can become a source of stress during the process, but also can enhance the students’ recognition of the accomplishment, the skills they learned, and the value of the experience. (See post-project student reflections on the OpenLab home page.)
High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.
First-year seminars and experiences, Collaborative assignments and projects, Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Service- or community-based learning, Place-Based Learning, Brooklyn Waterfront
Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?
This project required multiple rubrics. One rubric measured the students drawing work, including their documentation of existing conditions as well as their design proposals. In addition, the project required teamwork and oral presentation to the community partner. These were assessed with the Value Rubrics for Teamwork and Oral Communication. This course was not part of a general college-wide assessment initiative, but it was part of the Living Lab Third Year Fellowship.
Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?
This activity had a positive result for the students and the community partner. The community partner was very appreciative of the student effort to provide site documentation as well as their creativity in their proposals to protect from flooding. The post project student reflections were on the whole positive, with many students very appreciative to have the opportunity to work with a client, gaining a real life scenario experience.
I have repeated this process in another course that I teach with Prof. Michael Duddy, ARCH 4710 Urban Design Studio, where the students have worked on projects with community partners.
Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.
Examples of student work and photos of presentation at the community partner: