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Learning and Teaching Culture Policy
The sacrifice City Tech students make to be in studio, over and above extraordinary financial and familial responsibilities, adds weight and breadth to Studio Culture. We acknowledge the value students bring as representatives of a manifold cultural and civic experience. Over half of our students are the first of their family to attend college and have limited design experience. The studio is charged with developing a conception of their role in the built environment while revealing the agency of design thinking. Studio Culture at City Tech nurtures a dialogue from which students discover that the intersection of their strengths and interests enable them to become technically proficient and engaged urban citizens who may advance into positions of leadership.
The studio philosophy upholds the following principles shared by the community of faculty and students:
- Diversity and inclusion predicated on respect for one another with recognition of effort, goals, and differences.
The design studio is dependent on trust and active listening skills creating a space to test ideas and develop vision. A plurality of non-technical community stakeholders is invited to the studio to expand student experience while averting a closed self-referential design feedback loop.
- Good students and effective faculty require support and mechanisms for candid expression and constructive feedback. They are entwined in a continuous process of development and evolution.
An active learning environment is optimized when instructors and students are engaged in a dialogue that channels technical, historical and aesthetic knowledge towards a realization of relevancy and context for students. Peer mentors provide support and underpin the communication pipeline between instructor and student. Student Evaluation of Teaching data and instructor observations improve course delivery and classroom environment. Instructors are encouraged to attend department workshops and lectures to model the process of lifelong learning.
- Provide opportunities for students to discover and develop their voice on a range of issues pressing upon the built environment.
Gen-Ed skills are an essential component of studio culture. Students utilize reading, writing and research assignments to grapple with relevant current events. They are given opportunities to present issues from their present community or community of origin as a means to interrogate the impact of design on the environment.
- Nurture camaraderie between students to promote understanding and connections between communities.
The studio is an opportunity for students, typically without professional connections, to build their own network based on shared experiences and challenges common to this demographic. Mentorships, student clubs and study abroad programs enhance student bonding.
- Encourage discussion and debate on the social, political and economic context and impact of design and building.
Consensus building and disagreement resolution are instrumental for students to become successful advocates for their futures and the well-being of their communities. Instructors serve as informed moderators to ensure each student has an opportunity to express an opinion or experience.
- Invite extended communities of creative practices into the studio to expand and deepen the context for design thinking and processes.
Increasing the range of student exposure to creative forces improves their access to cultural arbiters and enriches a connection to their own experience. It enhances dialectical thinking and their ability to express ideas and creative processes.
- Inspire optimism in the student's approach towards the betterment of their community and the built environment.
The studio is a mechanism for empowering the next generation of urban inhabitants. These students will inherit a grim global landscape based on current climate change projections. This underscores a need for positive vision suffused with technical skills and historical knowledge. Contributions to areas of urban revitalization and environmental justice include projects focused on clean air/water systems, transportation/infrastructure and disaster/resiliency planning. Students must also be involved with designs for the aging and dying, accommodations for the mentally ill and disabled, and transitional planning for the homeless and released inmates. Direct engagement with these challenging topics is encouraged as fundamental responsibilities of technical designers in the city.
PLAN FOR IMPLEMENTATION AND MAINTENANCE
Periodic Review of Studio Culture Policy
A representative group of upper level students and the Department's Steering Committee periodically review the studio culture policy. The volunteers are from the student club leadership. This process ensures that student voices are integrated into the direction and tone of the department and that the policy is transmitted to the student body by its leaders.
Online video tutorials and in-class workshops are coordinated to reinforce the software and hardware skills utilized in the studio. The workshops cycle through content to maximize student exposure. Content repetition is utilized to facilitate skill mastery. The workshops are offered at multiple times during weekdays and weekends to accommodate student schedules. Online tutorials increase the opportunity for students to achieve proficiency with digital skills at their own convenience.
Student Evaluations of Teaching are completed each semester. The data and comments are distributed in anonymous aggregate format to both the Department Chair and studio coordinators. Instructors receive the information to improve their course delivery.
Classroom observations are conducted each semester for adjunct faculty who have taught fewer than ten consecutive semesters, and for all untenured full-time faculty that do not have the rank of Full Professor. Tenured faculty and adjuncts who have taught more than ten consecutive semesters are observed once a year. A post-observation conference between observer and observee is required to reinforce the process as a constructive exercise. The Chair reviews SET's and Observations with the Department Appointments Committee, noting trends and anomalies, to determine future teaching assignments.
The department conducts periodic “super-juries” where student work from all studios are reviewed by a group of external academic and industry representatives. Studios are arranged chronologically to illustrate the scaffolding of skills and increasing complexity of content. Review comments are distributed to course coordinators and a summary of the findings is presented by the Chair to the faculty.
Health and Wellbeing
Time management is a central concern for all students of architecture. The current policy resolves that limited studio access allows for students to increase the time spent developing their academic and professional interests off-campus. The department does not condone a twenty-four-hour studio work habit. It is in the program's interest to nurture a student body that can draw connections between the work they do in studio and the greater context of their community.
The following are resources to assist students with academic performance and out-of-classroom concerns:
- Online Early Intervention Form: This form enables the college to reach out to the student directly to help with academic performance. It is an easy online form designed to reduce faculty hesitation in recommending a student for assistance.
- Student Counseling: The student counseling and advisement center provides academic, career, and personal counseling to help students. Meeting with a counselor in their office, students are encouraged to talk about any problem or situation in their life that is interfering with their success in college. This may include family or relationship problems, financial problems and confusion over major requirements or college regulations.
- A grant from the Milton and Carroll Petrie Foundation allows City Tech to help students through financial emergencies. It is not intended as supplemental financial aid and cannot be used for tuition and fees. It is for the financial emergencies that might lead a student to drop out: loss of a job, pending eviction, overdue utility bills, fire, lack of funds to get to the College, being the victim of a burglary or any of the other unanticipated financial downturns that might impede a student's progress.
Studio instructors are sent guidelines and reminders regarding mid-term grades and feedback. The grades are indicators of student progress, performance and rough indicators of the student's successful course completion. Pass, Low Pass, and Borderline grades facilitate a conversation between student and instructor to determine any action or support required.
The jury process at City Tech is a constructive and supportive educational process for students. Jurors are expected to engage in an enlightened dialogue to demonstrate the breadth of knowledge and professional behavior required of any person engaged in design and dialectical thinking. Students in the course must attend the full review. Instructors will structure reviews to facilitate the engagement of all students in the course. Students will assign a colleague to take notes on the discussion and feedback given by jurors
Jurors for studio reviews must reflect a diversity of backgrounds (women and persons of color) with expertise relevant to the studio subject matter or a design thinking approach determined to be of value to the students by the course instructor.
Studio instructors will coordinate with the jurors in advance of their visit and submit their name and title to the department's front office. It is incumbent on the instructor to communicate with the juror the studio problem, schedule, and expectations during the review.