You are here

Exemplary Website - Architecture (Undergraduate Program)

Overview: 

The School of Architecture's undergraduate program is divided into two parts: The pre-professional Foundation Phase (year 1) and the Professional Phase (years 2 through 5).

Foundation Phase
A foundation year includes English, Mathematics and Physics courses and two Foundation Architecture studios, which develop a suite of drawing, analytical, computing, presentation, and fundamental design skills and knowledge essential to success in the professional phase. It also provides an introduction to architectural history and theory.
 
Professional Phase
Years 2 through 5 develop increasingly complex skill and knowledge in two stages:
  • CORE: The Core Stage inculcates basic skills that must be performed by the individual. This Stage is tested by Milestone 2.
  • APPLICATION: The Application Stage, tested by the Capstone, teaches students to work in collaboration, to handle more ambiguous criteria, to serve clients and community groups, and to work under conditions analogous to critical practice.

The School's curricula are organized into five curricular Streams:

  • Design:  Delivered in a studio environment analogous to professional practice, the Design Stream is where students learn the art and problem-solving skills of design and in which lessons from the other Streams are synthesized and applied to specific architectural problems Outcomes are evaluated in one-to-one discussions with the studio critic and during presentations to faculty and practitioners.
  • Technology:  Delivered in labs and class environments, the Technology Stream is focused on building technologies and includes explorative studies in Structures, Materials and Methods, and Environmental Control Systems Structural projects are tested by subjecting student-designed and -built mock-ups to measured stresses until failure; then by review of high-speed film, with analysis of the weakness of each design.
  • Design Communications: Delivered in the computer and material labs, studios, and class environments, the Design Communications Stream develops proficiency in oral, graphic, and written communications, with special emphasis on digital design and fabrication skills. Outcomes are measured in Stream-specific assignments, outside competitions, and conference venues, but also in shared assignments between other Streams.
  • History+Theory:  Delivered in lectures, seminars, online courses, and overlapping studio activities, the History+Theory Stream provides foundational knowledge in the history of the built environment, theories of architecture and their role in critical practice, and understanding of the way architects have used precedents and concepts in design. Outcomes are evaluated in quizzes, exams, journals, research papers, and projects.
  • Practice: Delivered in courses, workshops, and overlapping projects with the Studio Stream, the Practice Stream teaches architectural programming, predesign activities, professional ethics, and construction documentation and organization. Outcomes are evaluated in tests, projects, research papers, and presentations.

 

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Two rubrics for learning outcomes exist within the SoA’s curriculum:

Notice the explanation of the connection to the program’s external accrediting institution, and how the program used that process to inform this internal student learning outcomes assessment plan. The graphic in the attachment section shows how these two processes align. The learning outcomes use verbs that explicitly describe what students should know and be able to do as a result of completing the program; notice the mention that the learning outcomes must be present across the curriculum and not primarily tied to a specific course.

1. SPC: Student Performance Criteria (SPC) are competencies required of every graduating student by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). They are organized into four categories:

Realm A: Critical Thinking and Representation
Realm B: Building Practices, Technical Skills, and Knowledge
Realm C: Integrated Architectural Solutions
Realm D: Professional Practice

The NAAB SPC are to be delivered at one of two levels: Understanding or Ability.

The School has broken NAAB’s Criteria into Claims, Partial Claims, and Introductory Claims (see “SoA-NAAB SPC GUIDE,” attached). This allows us to deliver the accrediting body’s material according to our own curricular perspective; the parsing of NAAB’s more general requirements into smaller, more specific ones also allows greater precision in the assignment of SPC learning and contributes to the development of iterative developmental learning.

Claims are assigned to specific courses in the “B.Arch-NAAB SPC MATRIX” (attached). Supporting matrices show how Claims are parsed between curricular Streams. This tool insures that all NAAB SPC are met at the required competency upon graduation.

2. STREAM OUTCOMES: Learning Outcomes have been assigned to each of the School’s Curricular Streams. These are present across the curriculum, not tied to specific courses:

  • Studio: To design comprehensively and synthetically, inclusive of other disciplines and with particular appreciation of climate and setting.
  • Technology: To design with technological criteria, materiality, and constructability, giving particular value to post-carbon sustainability.
  • Design Communications: To execute and present architectural projects with clarity, precision, and conviction, particularly in current professional methods.
  • History+Theory: To research, analyze, and appreciate the historical and theoretical traditions of the discipline, with particular understanding of their practice impact.
  • Practice: To understand, engage, and critically appraise professional practices, with particular commitment to ethical standards, environmental impact, and civic outreach.

A graphic showing providing greater detail of the learning objectives associated with each Learning Objective and requirements for learning at Milestone 2 is attached as SoA Learning Outcomes by Curricular Stream.

 

Assessment Activities: 

SoA assesses student work at various points in the B.Arch degree, using Direct and Indirect methods with Internal and External reviewers, at the following Assessment Events:

The identified assessment points are clearly identified as direct or indirect. Note that in each course (where learning outcomes are assessed), a direct and indirect assessment activity is utilized, regularly engaging students in the assessment process. View the attachment section at the bottom of this page for the criteria used for each direct and indirect assessment activity.

  • ARC 301─DIRECT: At the final review, qualified external critics score student work on the five primary Learning Outcomes according to Learning Objectives for an INTRODUCTORY level.
  • ARC 301─INDIRECT: Students self-evaluate using the same score sheet used in the Direct assessment.
  • MILESTONE 2─DIRECT: At the completion of ARC 401, as part of Milestone 2, student portfolios are scored by SoA faculty for 4-5 criteria under each of the five primary Learning Objectives; the work is evaluated at a BASIC level of ability.
  • MILESTONE 2─INDIRECT: As part of Milestone 2, students are asked to complete the same survey used in the Direct assessment.
  • ARC 452─DIRECT: At the review of the final CAPSTONE, the final project of the B.Arch, selected external critics score the work for the five primary Learning Objectives for a BASIC-to-ADVANCED level.
  • ARC 452─INDIRECT: In an Exit Interview and Survey, students are asked to evaluate their classmates in general (and themselves in particular) by the same criteria used in the MILESTONE 2 survey.
  • B.ARCH WALK-THROUGH: At the end of every semester, each studio exhibits examples of "high pass" and "low pass" work for every project. All studio faculty in the degree program, along with the Director, chronologically review the projects, learning objectives, and teaching methods. Special attention is given to knowledge and skills needed at entry/exit points from each studio. The walk-through serves as a forum by which changes to curriculum and teaching methods are discussed and learning objectives are evaluated and moved between courses.

Measurement
All results must be measurable. For example, if the learning outcome is “students will demonstrate structural principles in the execution of their designs,” then measurable criteria might be: a) structural loads transferred from roof to foundation, b) each structural component of plausible dimension and material, and c) structural system evident in design concept. Each criterion is scored and entered in a table.

Assessment
Progress is assessed at various chronological points in the program and achievement determined by both Direct and Indirect means:

  • Direct assessment includes evaluations of projects against specific criteria; assessments are performed by both internal (faculty) and external (qualified guest critic) reviewers.
  • Indirect assessment includes subjective reports by students of their own experience and evaluations by internal (UA Faculty and students) and external reviewers (professionals and non-UA academics).

 

Assessment Findings: 

The SoA Assessment Standards for the B.Arch Program were initiated in Fall 2013. The following assessment activities occur at the end of each fall semester, with results posted in January of the following year.

The explanation of when each assessment event was implemented helps readers understand more about how the program started the process and continued the implementation. Notice the brief explanation preceding the findings for each assessment activity and the clear reporting of metrics, which align to the evaluation forms and surveys found in the attachment section.

The three remaining assessment activities occur at the end of each spring semester, with results posted in early summer.

*The ARC 301 Self-Evaluation was not created and distributed as planned. A survey to establish a baseline for ARC 301 was distributed to students in December 2014.


FINDINGS

ARC 301 Evaluations by External Reviewers
The panel of external reviews were asked to evaluate final ARC 301 projects presented by students according to theFive Critical Learning Outcomes. The scale used for scoring was: 10 = exceptional, 7 = good, 5 = competent, 3 = weak, 0 = not evident. The results for Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 are:

Stream Evaluated Fall 2013 Fall 2014
Studio 6.92 GOOD 5.86 COMPETENT
Technology  6.38 COMPETENT/GOOD 5.43 COMPETENT
Design Communication 6.77 GOOD 5.91 COMPETENT
History+Theory 5.13 COMPETENT 5.27 COMPETENT
Practice 4.40 WEAK/COMPETENT 6.08 COMPETENT

ARC 301 Student Self-Evaluations
A survey is distributed to ARC301 students at the end of the fall semester. Students are asked to evaluate ttheir performance within the five curricular streams.Students could select from the following grades for each area evaluated:

  • A: Excellence in most areas of evaluation. (assigned a value of 5 points)
  • B: High Competence in most areas of evaluation. (assigned a value of 4 points)
  • C: Fulfilled all course requirements with competence. (assigned a value of 3 points)
  • D: Less than competent work in one or more areas. (assigned a value of 2 points)
  • F: Substantially incomplete and/or unsatisfactory quality (assigned a value of 1 point)

The average scores for self-evaluation within each stream are as follows:

Stream Evaluated Fall 2013 Fall 2014
Studio no data collected 4.25 (HIGH COMPETENCE)
Technology no data collected 3.50 (COMPETENT)
Design Communication no data collected 4.0 (HIGH COMPETENCE)
History + Theory no data collected 3.25 (COMPETENT)
Practice no data collected 3.0 (COMPETENT)
Average across all curricular streams no data collected 3.6 (COMPETENT)

ARC 401 Milestone 2 Student Portfolio Review
Introduced in AY 2012-2013 as a pilot, Fall 2013 marked the first time that Milestone 2 had repercussions for low-performing students—those students failing to achieve a level of "COMPETENT" in the five critical learning objectives. Milestone 2 consists of a review of anonymously-submitted portfolios comprising a student's work from Foundation Studio through ARC401 Studio work by a panel comprising the SoA Curriculum Committee, individual Stream Coordinators, the Director, and other impartial reviewers chosen for their specialized technical expertise.

2013: Approximately 25% of the fourth year cohort was found to be unprepared in some measure and so emerged with restricted options:

  • 4 students will retake the ARC 302/ARC 401 sequence.
  • 1 student will retake ARC 401 and ARC 441.
  • 5 students will take a special ARC 451 studio that focused on fundamental learning objectives.
  • 2 of 3 students flagged to resubmit portfolios have done so and were allowed unrestricted access to ARC 451a (the next studio in the Professional Phase sequence).
  • 2 students dropped Architecture as their major.
  • 40 students proceeded to the independent 451a studios.

The review had several notable, positive effects: there is now much clearer agreement among faculty as to what the standard of "COMPETENT" means in terms of the Learning Objectives; faculty are more willing to require that under-performing students successfully complete remedial work before advancing to the next studio level, thus improving the quality of students who ultimately graduate from the program.

2014: As was the case last year, there was near unanimity among reviewers in evaluation of the Milestone portfolios: work that does not show the requisite competence stands out. There was a sense this year that our minimum standards are slowly rising. We see also increased discernment by Stream, with work that is weak in one domain being tagged for improvement.

  • 4 students will retake the ARC 302/ARC 401 sequence.
  • 1 student asked to resubmit portfolio; otherwise will retake ARC 401.
  • 1 student asked to resubmit portfolio; otherwise will retake the ARC 302/ARC 401 sequence.
  • 4 students will take a special ARC 451 studio that focused on fundamental learning objectives.
  • 2 students asked to resubmit portfolios with improved Environmental Control Systems (ECS) demonstration, per criteria being established.
  • 8 students (6 of whom are in the above listing) will be required to take an additional History+Theory course, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
ARC 401 Milestone 2 Student Self-Evaluation
A survey is distributed to ARC 401 students at the end of the fall semester. Students were asked to evaluate themselves, other students in their section, and other students within the class according to perceived performance in 30 categories within five curricular streams. Students could select from the following grades for each area evaluated:
  • A: Excellence in most areas of evaluation. (assigned a value of 5 points)
  • B: High Competence in most areas of evaluation. (assigned a value of 4 points)
  • C: Fulfilled all course requirements with competence. (assigned a value of 3 points)
  • D: Less than competent work in one or more areas. (assigned a value of 2 points)
  • F: Substantially incomplete and/or unsatisfactory quality (assigned a value of 1 point)

The average scores for self-evaluation within each stream are as follows:

Stream Evaluated Fall 2013 Fall 2014
Studio 4.09 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 4.0 (HIGH COMPETENCE)
Technology 3.85 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 3.0 (COMPETENT)
Design Communication 4.09 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 3.0 (COMPETENT)
History + Theory 4.0 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 3.67 (HIGH COMPETENCE)
Practice 3.95 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 3.33 (COMPETENT)
Average across all curricular streams 4.0 (HIGH COMPETENCE) 3.4 (COMPETENT)
 

ARC 452 Evaluations by External Reviewers
The panel of external reviews were asked to evaluate final ARC 452 (Capstone) projects presented by students according to the Five Critical Learning Outcomes. The scale used for scoring was: 10 = exceptional, 7 = good, 5 = competent, 3 = weak, 0 = not evident. The results, based on a BASIC to ADVANCE level of ability are:

Stream Evaluated Spring 2014 Spring 2015
Studio 7.88 GOOD 7.46 GOOD
Technology  7.66 GOOD 7.02 GOOD
Design Communication 7.87 GOOD 7.56 GOOD
History+Theory 7.70 GOOD 7.02 GOOD
Practice 7.73 GOOD 7.16 GOOD

A sample evaluation form, ARC 452 Learning Outcomes Evaluation Form, is provided below.

ARC 452 Capstone Student Self-Evaluation
A survey (attached as ARC 452 Capstone Student Self Evaluation Survey) is distributed to ARC452 students each spring. Students are asked to provide their feedback on curriculum, faculty and staff, resources, and other issues as they experienced them throughout their CAPLA careers. Because this survey is designed as a strategic planning tooland as a gauge of successful learning outcomes, responses not related to learning outcomes (particularly those that include faculty or staff names) are not included in this survey summary.

Sttudents responded to a request to evaluate the quality of SoA curriculum by Stream as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. Their ratings are as follows:

2014

Stream              Excellent Good        Fair          Poor        No Response
Studio 24% 58% 16% 2%  
Technology 60% 27% 9% 4%  
Design Communications             16% 53% 25% 5%  
History+Theory 29% 55% 13% 4%  
Practice 18% 25% 25% 31%  
Electives 24% 44% 20% 13%  

2015

Stream              Excellent Good        Fair          Poor        No Response
Studio 38% 63% 0% 0%  
Technology 38% 50% 13% 0%  
Design Communications             38% 50% 13% 0%  
History+Theory 13% 38% 38% 13%  
Practice 13% 13% 75% 0%  
Electives 13% 50% 38% 0%  

Students responded to a request to evaluate the quality of SoA instruction by Year as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. Their ratings are as follows:

2014

Year Excellent Good Fair Poor No Response
Foundation                                   55%         31%         11%            4%  
2nd Year  29% 36% 22% 13%  
3rd Year 27% 42% 20% 9% 2%
4th Year 58% 29% 11% 2%  
5th Year 24% 40% 22% 15%  

2015

Year Excellent Good Fair Poor No Response
Foundation                                   38%         38%         0%            25%  
2nd Year  13% 25% 50% 0%  
3rd Year 50% 38% 13% 0%  
4th Year 25% 63% 13% 0%  
5th Year 50% 50% 0% 0%  

Students provided feedback on how well they thought SoA prepared them for post-graduation using the following measures:

2014

Activity/Skill Excellent Good Fair Poor No Response
taking registration exam               9%           47%            30%           13%                           
professional skills, knowledge, habits 15% 42% 30% 13%  
design 30% 60% 8% 2%  
fabrication and construction 47% 47% 4% 2%  
intellectual inquiry and scholarship 21% 58% 15% 6%  
job interviewing and portfolio 21% 38% 25% 16%  
sustainability 29% 42% 20% 8%  
citizenship and societal contribution 13% 42% 25% 19%  

2015

Activity/Skill Excellent Good Fair Poor No Response
taking registration exam               0%           25%            75%           0%                           
professional skills, knowledge, habits 13% 38% 50% 0%  
design 38% 50% 13% 0%  
fabrication and construction 38% 63% 0% 0%  
intellectual inquiry and scholarship 13% 63% 25% 0%  
job interviewing and portfolio 13% 50% 38% 0%  
sustainability 25% 50% 25% 0%  
citizenship and societal contribution 25% 50% 25% 0%  

B.Arch Walk-Through
Since the Walk-through was implemented three years ago, it has proven to be a mechanism for positive change within the SoA curriculum. Most notably, many learning objectives have been moved to earlier in the studio sequence. In the most recent reviews, certain aspects of digital technology, structural understanding, and project complexity will now be introduced to students in lower-level studio projects.

In Fall 2014, the B.Arch revealed the following deficiencies/issues. As of Febriuary 2015, the appropriate faculty have been tasked to determine what corrective measure(s) can by implemented to remedy the deficiency and according to what criteria our progress will be measured:

  • Draft a list of goals for each studio to codify what every students needs to know (aside from NAAB-mandated SPCs) by the time he/she graduates.
  • Ensure that every student is provicient in REVIT by the time he/she reaches ARC 401.
  • Find ways to improve quality of incoming Foundation students and insure a higher level of academic performace at the Pre-Professional level.
  • Introduce precedent study and basic design software skills prior to beginning design projects in ARC 201.
  • Address lack of preparedness of students entering ARC 301 in terms of design communications.
  • Coordinate assignments in ARC 201 studio with those in ARC 222 (Site Analysis and Planning).
  • Find ways to integrate History+Theory readings into studio curriculum.

The Spring 2015 Walk-Through prompted the implementation of two innovations:

  • Faculty will identify exceptional skills in particularly gifted students—and give them an accolade of "Mentor" in that speciality—to both acknowledge the accomplishment and allow 302 faculty to call upon those students for help. 
  • The 302 Faculty noted a drop in digital skill which they believe is due, in part, to dropping the student-led technology workshops. In response, the Design Communications Stream committee will re-implement that program starting Fall 2015.
 
Change in Response to Findings: 

In August 2014, the NAAB released new SPC organized in four, rather than three, Realms (as updChange in Response to Findings: Notice the clear connection of changes to the learning outcomes; changes to the curriculum are a result of the student learning outcomes assessment process. Note that the indirect measures (student evaluation) factored into the changes adopted by the faculty. They also include next steps will be taken in assessment based on current findings.ated herein). The School assessed these new Criteria and redistributed them to courses; at the same time, changes were made in response to recent findings posted here.

The Practice Stream shows up consistently as the weakest curricular area, being the only Stream with fewer than 50% of graduating students rating it Good-Excellent.

Several things are being be done to strengthen this:

TEACHING: nurture and focus current faculty member in charge of this stream on improving the related learning outcomes.

SPC: reassign SPC so that courses in this stream are not over-burdened. THIS WAS DONE DURING THE 2014 SPC REASSIGNMENT. At the same time, we intend to add 1-CU to ARC 459, Ethics and Practice (on Curriculum Committee agenda for Spring 2015).

MEASURE: look for better ways to assess learning objectives in this Stream.

The Technology Stream was given a relatively weak rating by students after ARC 401, which is a point when this stream should have very high ratings.

We strengthened the connection between ARC 401 and its parallel building technology support course, ARC 421:

  1. The instructor for ARC 421 served as a consultant for environmental control systems in the ARC 401 projects;
  2. A team of professional engineers and architects were brought in to consult with students on the ARC 401 projects;
  3. Two graded assignments were created in ARC 421 related to student projects in ARC 401:
    1. SECTION: A building section of each student’s studio project showing mechanical systems.
    2. MODEL: A physical model of the mechanical systems of each student’s studio project.

Assessments of these initiatives are forthcoming.

The faculty found a performance bottleneck occurring in the third year studios. Simple structural and building system learning objectives were moved to ARC 201-202, which should better prepare students for ARC 301-302.

In Exit Interviews, graduating students asked for more options in the Capstone pedagogy.  For 2014-2015, the Capstone pedagogy was re-written to give students new options for self-determination:

ARC 498: Capstone Prep was reorganized to allow more exploration and student initiative.

ARC 452: Capstone students were given two options for self-directing their work:

STUDENT-DETERMINED SITE AND PROGRAM: Students with better than a 3.0 gpa in Professional Phase studios and who present an acceptable proposal (blind review by all Capstone Faculty) were allowed to determine their own project site and program (within specified requirements). In 2014-2015, five students applied and three were accepted.

STUDENT-DETERMINED PROJECT: Students with better than a 3.0 gpa in Professional Phase studios, whose ARC 401 project clearly satisfied SPC related to Comprehensive Project, and who present an acceptable proposal (blind review by all Capstone Faculty) were allowed to propose a less determined project of smaller or larger scope (did not have to be a whole building within a specified range) with greater research emphasis.  In 2014-2015, no students applied.

 

Updated date: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 07:35