Critical Issues in Studio Pedagogy: Beyond the Mystique and Down to Business

  • Elizabeth BolingEmail author
  • Kennon M. Smith
Part of the Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations book series (ECTII)


In a 7-year study of a studio-based instructional graphics course, the authors describe its evolution from a lecture-heavy course including some studio features to a course that has much in common with traditional studio classes as we experienced them in our own architecture and fine arts education. This multi-year experience has raised questions for us regarding the way we work with students to develop their expertise in design, including the following: (1) What is “the novice”? Can we teach to the general model of a novice? (2) Is it necessary to ask students to generate many alternative concepts early in a project? (3) Can we separate tool learning from learning concepts and habits of thought? Using examples from reflective analysis of student work and field notes, we discuss experiences suggesting that assumptions brought to this course from studio experiences deserve reconsideration. At a time when discussions of design and design thinking are exploding around us with widely varying commitment to specificity and rigor, we conclude that we cannot borrow ideas like studio pedagogy from other disciplines without sufficient critical examination. We need to pay careful attention to what is actually happening in our courses rather than designing solely from theory or, worse, from our assumptions regarding studio education.


Action research Critique Design fixation Design tensions Instructional graphics Novice practice Precedent Primary generator Problem framing Signature pedagogy Studio pedagogy Tool use 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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