Active Learning Approach in Teaching Structures

Anahita Khodadadi

Learning architectural design is usually a cooperative and problem based activity. The major proportion of a student’s curriculum includes courses which are taught with a similar approach. In contrast, some other courses like structures tend to be more theoretical and lecture based. Studies have indicated that the students cannot maintain their attention during such lectures effectively, and that some meaningful activities are required to develop a positive learning attitude. In the case of teaching advanced subjects, like structural form finding, some model making practices or simulations are suggested to engage the students. However, in the case of teaching basic concepts of structures such as forces and reactions in beams, behaviour of arches and cables, moment capacity and shear stress, a few practical activities can be introduced. This study describes some practices based on active learning strategies to teach basic concepts of structures to architecture students. By the use of this approach, students and instructors are placed side-by-side, working together.

Students observe the results of experiments and analyse them to precisely comprehend the lecture material. The exercises were designed for the course of “Structure I” and were carried out by students of the undergraduate and the 3-year master program at the University of Michigan.