Innovative collaborative learning recognised with ALTC Citation

14 August 2009

Kristine Sodersten and Susan Rice from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning have won a prestigious Australian Learning and Teaching Citation Council 2009 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

The citation is awarded for their initiating, developing and teaching of a unique program developed by the two academics that places students at risk of failing the third year of their Bachelor of Design in Architecture program in an intensive collaborative design studio during the winter break. During the five-day program students work intensively alongside fellow students and their teacher, developing a design response to a set project, supported by their teacher, the studio co-ordinator. and fellow students.

"The collaborative approach to learning gives students a renewed confidence developing their critical thinking and judgment skills as they learn to learn from each other," says Kristine Sodersten.

The intensive contact between students and the teachers over the course of the week allows Sodersten and Rice to assess not only the results or 'what' students have designed but also the process or 'how' students have gone about their designing. "This focus is critical because it is the problems in the ways these students are designing that are the causes of their failure." This places the students at the centre of teaching and learning. Susan adds that "as their confidence grows students begin to make comments on each other's emerging design schemes … and see their peers as insightful and useful contributors to their learning, and that they can contribute to the learning of their peers."

The results of this program have been measured over six years. Participants in the program were much more likely to improve improved their grades in the next semester significantly more than other students who had achieved pass level. While students who achieved a pass result in Semester 1 on average stayed at that level in the following semester, participants in the winter school program improved on average to a credit level or better.Kristine and Susan will receive their Citation in a Ceremony on the 11th of August at the NSW Art Gallery.

More than $2 million will be presented to 206 individuals and teams as part of the Australian Government's commitment to quality learning and teaching, with each citation worth $10,000. This year a record number of institutions received citations.

Citations are awarded to academic and professional staff who have made long-standing contributions to the quality of student learning and improving the overall student experience.