The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at EMU


Jiang Lu’s chapter focuses on a hot issue in the teaching of space design – should students be trained primarily in traditional (pen and pencil) design techniques, or should their training primarily be in digital media (through such programs as AutoCAD and SketchUp)? Jiang created a set of design projects for her studio design class and gave the students wide latitude in choosing the techniques they would use. She then examined the choices they made and surveyed her students to get their perspectives on why they did what they did. Thus, one of the benefits of this chapter is that we hear the student voice, unfiltered, as they discuss their learning. As we might imagine, choices of how to train design students are not as stark as the either/or perspective that strong advocates of either side would argue. As is often the case, Jiang concludes that rather than exploring this issue in terms of what are the right and wrong ways to do it, we need to consider whether different techniques might be most appropriate for different projects. For example, Jiang finds her students are most likely to use pen and pencil to work with re-designs of existing spaces and most likely to use 3D digital renderings for designs of new spaces. The personal preferences and skill sets of students are also factors in determining what the “correct” choice is in a given situation. I particularly appreciate this level of nuance in Jiang’s arguments.