Assessing Competencies in Architecture and Architectural History Studies

Alan Michelson
Head, Built Environments Library, University of Washington, Seattle

This February at the 2018 ARLIS/NA Conference in New York, James Sobczak and I presented our information competencies for the fields of architecture and architectural history. We received some excellent feedback there from the discussion group that was convened. Interested in expanding some of the ideas brought up there, we attended the annual conference of the Association of Architecture School Librarians in Denver, to discuss the idea of coordinating a nationwide effort to study the goals of educators in these two fields and to survey recent graduates to see if they felt they were getting skills that they needed in the workplace. With this perspective on what educators are seeking to teach and what students say that they need, we are hoping to develop data that can assist architecture school librarians with developing effective information literacy strategies. At the very least, we are hoping to understand what key courses should be targeted with greater levels of cooperative teaching from librarians. In this way, our limited time could be spent most efficiently.

Drafting Class at Armstrong Technical HS, Washington, D.C., 1942, Marjory Collins, photographer. Library of Congress Collections (Digital ID fsa 8d20247 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d20247)

Since that time, we have been in contact with a small group of volunteers to consider next steps in this long-term project. We have discussed implementing several features in our research methodology. These steps would include initial collection of data–syllabi, departmental outlines of curricula, accreditation reports, and other written statements of purpose by departmental leaders–about the courses currently taught in architecture and architectural history. An initial study period of this departmental data seems fundamental to familiarizing ourselves about the overall curricular structure, areas of pedagogical focus, and the approaches of individual instructors.

James Sobczak has developed a survey instrument for students who’ve graduated, either at the undergraduate or graduate levels. This survey focuses on skills that young professionals got while in school, and to ask if they saw any deficiencies in their training. Additionally, surveys could be prepared to query incoming graduate students about skills that they hoped to obtain while earning their degrees.

Contact me (alanmich@u.washington.edu) if you’re interested in participating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *