Montana State University
MSU STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PROPOSAL FOR INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES
PROPOSAL OVERVIEW
TitleTooling the Gateway Creativity Course (Arch 151) to Broaden Impact and Improve Retention Request Date2012-12-02
DepartmentCollege of Arts and Architecture Emailmeverts@montana.edu
RequestorMichael Everts (PI) and Lindsay Schack (Co-PI) Phone994-3392
INSTITUTIONAL BENEFIT
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts  
TIMEFRAME
Proposed Dates Start: Feb 15 2013 End: Dec 15 2013
PROPOSAL SUMMARY
This proposal is for the development of a satellite program that would link with Arch 151 (discipline introduction and research and creativity Core). It introduces parametric thinking via digital tools, the process of environmental simulation and performance-driven design, and an expanded learning community. Its goal is to: address an issue of declining enrollment in Arch 151; address an issue of low fall to fall retention in the first year of the architecture program; meet a need for sustainability education and technology; and sustain one of MSUís largest graduate programs, architecture.
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT
Accessing and improving where needed, student learning of critical knowledge and skills is the primary objective of this proposal.

First, this proposal accesses and identifies a high impact educational opportunity in an introductory disciplinary and Core creativity course, Arch 151. Then, the proposal takes advantage of the opportunity by creating a satellite course with two strategies: 1) expanding the content of Arch 151 with the learning objective to associate sustainability with creativity and 2) improve the quality of learning by increasing the capacity of processing diverse and greater amounts of information with the introduction of digital tools.

Stewardship of environmental resources and promoting a culture of resource conservation is the second objective that this proposal addresses.

This proposal advances the objective of stewardship by introducing the concept of performance-driven design to an introductory creativity course. Environmental performance as a foundational concept and input for form design (buildings) helps create strategies of form and proportion that can optimize energy usage.
COST AND REQUIREMENTS
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries 15721.48             
Benefits 4540.34             
Materials & Supplies              
Travel              
Contracted Services 15626.00             
Capital              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 35887.82     
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Spring 2013 - six week small scale pilot:

Two Architecture graduate student teaching assistants would be supported by this request for two

additional hours per week, two, one-hour meetings, two-hour exit interviews with students and survey development over six weeks during spring semester 2013. This cost is $1,188.00 per TA. Total cost for spring semester 2013 = $2,376.00.

The TA would assist in creating and administering a survey to ARCH 152 students; meet with co-PIs and practitioners to coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches. Meet with two small groups of 10 students for two hours each week for six weeks – the 1st two weeks the TA would teach/tutor students in basic computer skills and navigation techniques. During the 2nd two weeks the TA would assist with the student’s digital environmental model, trouble shooting and critiquing their results. The last two weeks the TA will be guiding students by critiquing the architectural product that results from the environmental analysis models. At the end of the pilot program the TA will participate in exit interviews with students.

Two local practitioners would receive honorariums. This cost is $500.00 per practitioner. Total cost for spring semester 2013 = $1,000.00.

The practitioner will participate in student group meetings for two hours each week for six weeks and coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches. The practitioner will teach/tutor students in the hardware/software technologies that are used in architectural firms. The practitioner will participate in critiques of the student’s final model.

                  Principal Investigator (PI) (faculty member) teaching overload for six weeks. This cost is $1,320.00 ($1,650 p/cr.)plus benefits of 32.69%. Total cost for spring semester 2013 = $1,751.51.

                  The PI will meet with two small groups of 10 students two hours per week for six weeks; participate in student group meetings for two hours each week for six weeks and coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches. The PI will teach/tutor about software technologies that are used in architectural firms and participate in critiques of the student’s final model.

                  Co-PI (NTT instructor) additional teaching assignment for six weeks. This cost is $903.28 ($1,129.10 p/cr.) plus benefits of 32.69%. Total cost for spring semester 2013 = $1,198.56.

                  The Co-PI will meet with two small groups of 10 students two hours per week for six weeks; participate in student group meetings for two hours each week for six weeks and coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches. The Co-PI will teach/tutor about software technologies that are used in architectural firms and participate in critiques of the student’s final model.

  

Summer 2013 – performance review and large scale pilot detailed development:

                  One Architecture graduate student teaching assistant would be supported by this request for summer session 2013 (approx. 80 hours).  This cost is $2,640.00 plus benefits (10%). Total cost for summer session 2013 = $2,904.00.

                  The TA would assist with review of the small scale pilot program including data entry/gathering/ summary of exit interviews and survey; producing a program outline for D2L as well as other teaching instruments such as informational videos that will be posted to D2L.

                  PI and Co-PI supported by this request during summer session 2013 (approx. 80 hours [ea.]). This cost is $3,000 per PI. Total cost for summer session 2013 = $6,000.00.

 

Fall 2013 – test of pilot program in the studio:

                  Five practitioners would be hired as consultants to the studio with each practitioner assigned to two groups of 15 students with one contact hour per week for 10 weeks. This cost is $1,050.00 per practitioner. Total cost for fall semester 2013 = $5,250.00.

                  The practitioner will participate in student group meetings for two hours each week for 15 weeks and coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches. The practitioner will teach/tutor students about software technologies that are used in architectural firms and will participate in critiques of the student’s final project.

                  Two visiting faculty members (university, may be teaching overload)-Experts in the fields of Ecology and Technology will present lectures to students enrolled in ARCH 151, one contact hour per week for 5 weeks. This cost is $1,000.00 per visiting faculty member plus benefits of 32.69%. Total cost for fall semester 2013 = $2,653.80.

                  PI (may be teaching overload), Co-PI (NTT instructor) additional teaching assignment and one faculty member TBD (may be teaching overload). This cost is $3,300.00-PI, $2,258.20-Co PI, $3,300.00-faculty member plus benefits of 32.69%. Total cost of fall semester 2013 = $11,753.95.

                  PI, Co-PI and faculty member would be teaching nine groups of 15 students staggered during the week to correlate with these faculty; 3 contact hours per week for 10 weeks.

                  The PI, Co-PI and faculty member will coordinate organization, learning strategies and teaching approaches; teach/tutor students in the hardware/software technologies that are used in architectural firms. The faculty member will participate in critiques of the student’s final model.

                  Composition of evaluative report and assessment-at the conclusion of the semester the PI and Co-PI would author an evaluative report of the test pilot. This cost is $1,000.00.

 

TOTAL PILOT PROGRAM $35,887.82

PROPOSAL SCOPE
Describe the Proposal

The learning objective of Arch 151 is to understand natural and formal ordering systems and their capacity to inform design. It is the introduction to architecture and a research and creative experience Core….basically, it is a gateway creativity course.

This proposal is for the development of a satellite program that would link with Arch 151. It aims to: address an issue of declining enrollment in Arch 151; address an issue of low fall to fall retention in the architecture program; meet a need for sustainability education and technology; and sustain one of MSU’s largest graduate programs, architecture.

The number of students enrolled in ARCH 151 has declined by 31.90% over the past four years, from 163 in 2007 (142 majors and 21 non-majors) to 111 in 2011 (94 majors and 17 non-majors). In addition, the percentage of applicants compared to students enrolled in Arch 151 has declined: in 2006 the retention was 55% (404 applicants, 221 enrolled) in 2011 the retention was 32% (367 applicants, 117 enrolled). Advancing into the program, the fall-to-fall retention numbers have also been declining, although not as drastically. The retention of Architecture majors from first to second year is currently 60.64%. Although many factors could be contributing to this decline, enrollment numbers for the University have increased 16% (12,170 students in 2007 to 14,153 students in 2011) in the same period. This suggests that potential students see how their interests and values can be advanced through education, but that the architectural track is a declining means to develop those values or support a career that can deliver that value.

Many students have identified a need to integrate sustainability as a core value in their education.[i] This is especially relevant for architecture: buildings in the United States contribute 40% of our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions and most of these emissions come from fossil fuels to provide heating, cooling, and lighting.[ii] It is a complex problem whose solution can be informed by digital technologies that have the capacity to analyze information and simulate performance. Currently, sustainability and digital technology are not in the Arch 151 curriculum.

The issue of sustaining the Architectural Graduate Program stems from the fact that 90% of its students come from the MSU undergraduate program. Therefore, the declining enrollment in the undergraduate program will soon have direct impact on the size of the graduate program if a corrective action is not implemented.

This proposal introduces parametric thinking via digital tools, the process of performance-driven design and an expanded learning community, that includes practitioners mentoring first year students, to Arch 151. These supplemental learning objectives and delivery methods will increase the desirability of a design education by creating a direct connection to sustainability, an accessible and practical use of innovative technologies and the opportunity to experience how both are used in the profession.

Arch 151 already teaches that an understanding of how natural and formal systems are organized and coupled together is fundamental to design. This existing concept is expanded on in this proposal. The proposal will teach how designing the couplings of natural and human orders as performance-driven systems can impact society and the environment in a positive way. The critical concepts that are introduced are parametric thinking, performance evaluation, analysis and visualization – understandings that digital tools empower.[iii]  It is this deeper understanding of important design concepts that is the most beneficial aspect of digital technology. Studies show that the ability to “play” in an interactive design environment accelerates learning and increases comprehension.[iv]  

Specifically, this program will incorporate digital tools into the design process to:

1. Analyze information visually in order to emphasize the demonstrable qualities of natural systems.

2. Create the capacity to experiment with the force-to-space relationships as a method for generating ideas.

3. Promote the rapid assessment of greater amounts of information.

4. Create the capacity to process multiple factors at once and represent a complex range of natural forces and spatial conditions.

This proposal will use software such as Rhino, Grasshopper and Ecotect, which have the capacity to support parametric “play” with systems. By integrating this depth of understanding into the generative phase of design, the solution will fit more positively into its environment.

The learning community strategy that is used in this proposal puts in place an integrated team of faculty, teaching assistants, student peers and local practitioners. It creates a network of different perspectives that enhance the learning environment. This strategy also addresses a need to create meaningful connections to the profession of architecture, which has embraced the digital revolution and is demanding that graduates demonstrate expertise in digital tools. In half of the course, faculty and teaching assistants will cover fundamental principles of performance driven design, parametric thinking and essential computer skills.  In the other half, practitioners will cover performance driven design in practice and the application of environmental simulation tools that are a critical part of advanced buildings. Similar approaches at other universities report that student feedback overwhelmingly cites an “appreciation for the opportunity and ability to talk to professionals that are using digital tools in practice.”[v]

An outline for the three-semester pilot follows:

1. Small scale pilot for delivery method development, 6 weeks in Spring 2013. At the beginning of the semester, a survey will be given to all first year architecture students to identify those who are undecided about pursuing an architectural career and those who desire an “honors” track education. Statistically, these two demographics are most “at-risk” for attrition from the program. From the results of the survey, 20 students would be provided with technology and natural systems education sessions along with practitioner collaboration meetings 2 hrs/wk. Information from evaluations and exit interviews will be compiled at the end of the semester.

2. Curriculum development for full scale pilot, Summer 2013. Feedback and “lessons learned” from the small-scale pilot will be analyzed and incorporated into assignments and a curriculum for the next step, a full-scale pilot.

3. Full-scale pilot, 10 weeks in Fall 2013. All of the Arch 151 students (approximately 150) would participate in the full-scale pilot, 2 hrs/week. Currently, the course is divided into three major sections (one faculty per section) and three sub sections (one teaching assistant (TA) per sub section) for a total of nine groups of fifteen students each. The full-scale pilot would utilize the same fifteen-student groups. For 1 hr/wk, the group would meet with a local practitioner (five different practitioners, each taking two groups) and the TA to review technology tutorials, discuss practice, and develop peer support. For the other 1 hr/wk, a faculty member and TA would conduct the session to introduce concepts of natural system performance, the associated technologies for simulating them, and strategies for generating design concepts. The content of each of the weekly sessions would be integrated and coordinated with the assignments of Arch 151.

If the pilot process that this proposal outlines is successful, it would be implemented as a 1 credit co-requisite with Arch 151. Finally, it is important to note that the current Arch 151 curriculum does an excellent job of teaching ordering systems from abstract artistic interpretations. This proposal is for the development of learning objectives and delivery methods that unite with artistic interpretations to broaden the impact and improve the retention of students who will have a better opportunity to improve the world.


[i] Getting Down and Dirty: Values in Education for Sustainability, Issues in Educational Reseach 18 (2) 2008 (Elaine Lewis, Caroline Mansfield and Catherine Baudains: Murdoch University, 2008) 138.

[ii] Towards a Climate Friendly Built Environment, Pew Center on Global Climate Change (Marilyn A. Brown, Frank Southworth, Therese K. Stovall: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, 2005) 2.

[iii] Performance-Driven Design and Prototyping: Design Computation and Fabrication (Ming Tang, Ajla Aksamija, Michael Hodge, Jonathon Anderson, 2011) 49.

[iv] Fourth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Design, AID ’96, Stanford, California, June 24 – 27, 1996 (John S. Gero and Fay Sudweeks, eds. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996) 17.

[v] Performance-Driven Design and Prototyping: Design Computation and Fabrication 45.

 
Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

Because Architecture is a blend of art and science, introductory architectural courses that teach design thinking skills have a unique opportunity to have impact on a wide range of students.  In addition to the problem-solving design process, the content of sustainability of natural systems is relevant to a multitude of careers. An effective way to conceptualize sustainability is to understand the performance of natural systems, which is fundamental to solving problems in a sustainable way.  Parametric thinking via digital tools of information processing and system simulation are integral to modeling the performance of natural systems with proposed design solutions.  This process of performance/generation/evaluation is characteristic to complex problem solving outside of architecture too. This proposal responds to an opportunity to evolve the introductory architectural curriculum’s content and reach a broader audience, which will improve retention and recruitment.

The immediate impact (also a metric of this proposal's assessment), is to increase the Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 retention of architecture students by 10% (10 students). Economically, this would generate an estimated $53,189 in additional tuition. This is calculated by applying the School of Architecture’s ratio of in-state to out-of-state students is 60-40 to tuition costs: 6 in-state students would generate $15,991.20 (6x$2,665.20) in tuition and 4 out-of-state students would generate $37,197.60 (4x$9,299.40) in tuition.

The main strategy that the proposal uses to impact retention is expanding the design generation approach to include the performance of natural systems.  Many students find the generation of abstract understandings (the current beginning approach) too distant from tangible applications. For some students this unnecessarily discourages their pursuit of an architectural career.  This proposal links artistic instinct with practical insight, creating a more accessible way to understand natural and formal ordering systems and their impact on design. Also, if one can understand natural systems as performance, it is easier to integrate the ethics of sustainability.

The academic infrastructure for teaching sustainability is growing at MSU.  By introducing sustainability as a core value in an introductory class, the curriculum will further enhance the University’s land grant mission in respect to stewardship.  The program will identify with the growing number of students who value sustainability. 

Also, by introducing first year students to innovative technologies, they can advance their understanding of ordering systems.  The computer has the capacity to enhance a student’s ability to analyze the interactive performance of natural and human systems with a design decision, enabling that student to conceptualize the impacts and connections of design decisions in a very direct way.  This enhanced level of ‘knowing” and ability to make connections between elements based on tangible and demonstrable qualities will improve a student’s design process and has been proven to deepen engagement in the investigative process. Currently these topics are integrated into the design of buildings in the 3rd year of study. This program extracts the concepts and moves them forward in a sense that allows students to make a more informed commitment to a design education.

The strategy that the program uses to impact recruitment is expanding content with parametric thinking and expanding mediums of delivery with digital tools that combine to effectively evolve ARCH 151 to have a more direct application to other disciplines. Use of digital tools is pervasive in allied industries and has recently revolutionized the design industry in both process and product.  Many universities currently implement digital tools in introductory classes to enhance pedagogy and as a response to student demand.

The introduction of computer modeling skills creates an opportunity to also integrate practitioners who are using these technologies to evolve the discipline. Professional mentoring and interaction with the design industry has been shown to positively impact student retention and recruitment at schools of architecture. Students in this proposal will participate in seminars with partnering practitioners where they will learn about issues of professional development, practice management, and application of technological skill. In addition, upper level student teaching assistants will benefit from the opportunity to mentor and support the learning community.  The seminars enable beginning design students to comprehend the realities of a design career as well as jump start the innovative skills needed to be leaders in the design/architecture, engineering and construction industries. This helps the student verify their chosen path of study. 

 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Implementation Plan

This small-scale pilot phase of this proposal could be conducted in Spring 2013 with Arch 152, the curricular development could occur in Summer 2013 and the full-scale pilot could be implemented in Fall 2013. 

Small-Scale Pilot

Administration of first year student survey:                                       Feb 2013

Orientation of co-PI’s, Practitioners, and TA’s:                                    Feb 2013

Selection of 20 students to participate in pilot:                                   March 2013

Sessions for systems performance and digital tools,(6wks)                    March 2013 – April 2013

Student exit interviews and evaluations                                            May 2013

 

Data Interpretation and Curricular Development

Evaluation of impacts, success, and lessons learned                             June 2013

Co-PI development of full-scale pilot curriculum                                  June 2013 – July 2013

TA assistance with data entry and D2L Course outline                           June 2013 – July 2013

 

Full-Scale Pilot

Orientation of Arch 151 Faculty, TA’s, Practitioners, co-PI’s                    August 2013

Sessions for systems performance and digital tools, (10 wks)                 Sept 2013 – Nov 2013

Student exit interviews and evaluations                                             Dec 2013

Evaluation of impacts, success, and lessons learned                              Dec 2013

 
Assessment Plan

The expected direct results of this proposal are:

1) Retention of architectural majors will increase from fall first year to fall of second year. The target is an immediate 10% increase in fall-to-fall retention. We aim to increase the number of accepted 2nd year architectural students for Fall 2014 by approximately 10 students.

2) An understanding and utilization of digital tools to simulate natural forces and use of sustainability as a major factor in generating designs. This objective would be assessed by faculty in project reviews at the end of the full-scale pilot, December 2013.

3) Retention of applicant-to-enrolled students in the architecture program would increase. In 2011, there were 367 applicants compared to 117 enrolled students in Arch 151.  Our target is to increase the number of enrolled students by 10% (12 additional students) by Fall 2014. 

If the above direct metrics are achieved and the evaluations are positive, the plan will be proposed as a permanant one-credit co-requisite to Arch 151. The integration of this course into the curriculum and its ability to enhance recruitment, impact allied creative disciplines, increase Architecture's retention, add sustainability as a design generator and learning objective associated with Arch 151, and help manitain the graduate program in architecture will be the ultimate measure of this proposal's success.

 
If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

This is a one-time-only funding request. If, after the conclusion of the full-scale pilot, assessment (student feedback, TA feedback, faculty review of process and product) indicates that the initiative does not demonstrate success, it will be abandoned.

 
SIGNATURES
Department Head: Steven Juroszek (stevej@montana.edu)
Dean/Director: Nancy Cornwell (nancy.cornwell@montana.edu)
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (mpotvin@montana.edu)