Reflective connections for student success in an undergraduate architecture program
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Copyright © 2012 HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia) and authors.
This paper examines the role of critical reflection in building student success in two units of the undergraduate Architecture course at Curtin University: a first-year communications unit and a third-year architectural science unit. The study reported here was prompted by a 2010 review of the Architecture course, which introduced changes in the curriculum and patterns of teaching. The first-year 2011 unit discussed in this paper is part of the revised course, while the third-year unit in the same year followed the old pattern, except for the introduction of a reflective segment to the Science of Architecture Unit. Critical reflection, challenging commonly held assumptions, has been shown to be a valuable tool for enhancing learning. Our research – a collaboration between staff from architecture and academic communications backgrounds – found that the first-year students demonstrated greater reflectivity, albeit at a basic level, than their third-year counterparts. This surprising finding supports the premise that reflection, an order of thinking that is generally fully achieved only in adulthood, needs to be developed gradually over an extended period. In this paper we explain the context for the reflective writing exercises in each unit, present examples of student writing, and explore reasons for the variations between years.
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