Richard Tucker

 Dr Richard Tucker




Position:
Associate Head of School (Research)

Faculty: Science and Technology
School: Architecture and Building
Discipline: Architecture

Campus: Waterfront
Phone: +61 3 522 78308
Email: richard.tucker@deakin.edu.au



"Teaching design is primarily about teaching students how to learn. Through scholarship I have aimed to be the kind of academic who makes an impact on students by relating to them as individuals and showing that I am interested in how they think."

Dr Richard Tucker is Associate Head of School (Research), Senior Lecturer and supervises Honours students in the School of Architecture and Building. Before joining Deakin in 2002 he worked as an architect with a leading UK firm renowned for environmentally friendly design.

Motivation

Richard aims to inspire imagination and foster independent learning and deep levels of motivation in his students by passing on his own passion for sustainable design. He supports the development of teamwork and communication skills and facilitates a teaching and learning environment that promotes students' understanding about their personal design processes and unique learning preferences, to support lifelong learning. Richard believes that trust is essential to teaching design and he focuses on building connections with students as individuals.

Richard aims to inspire imagination and foster independent learning and deep levels of motivation in his students by passing on his own passion for sustainable design. He supports the development of teamwork and communication skills and facilitates a teaching and learning environment that promotes students' understanding about their personal design processes and unique learning preferences, to support lifelong learning. Richard believes that trust is essential to teaching design and he focuses on building connections with students as individuals.

Approaches and methods

Drawing on his experience as a practising architect, Richard believes that effective multidisciplinary and multicultural collaborative learning are essential to built environment education. Through evidence-based innovation in this area he has become an internationally recognised specialist in the pedagogy of collaborative and sustainable design.

When Richard first began teaching architectural design he quickly identified the teaching of small groups in studio settings as a problem requiring developmental solutions and systematic research into the impacts of these solutions on student learning outcomes.

The evidence-based approach to collaborative teaching and learning which he has developed incorporates:

  • the introduction of workshops on teamwork skills
  • continuous, anonymous, online peer assessment
  • group formation based on a combination of tutor allocation and self selection to provide students with some choice, encourage diversity within teams, reduce conflict and lead to a more challenging learning environment supporting deeper learning
  • role-play to create an authentic learning environment that prepares students for professional practice.

Funded by the Strategic Teaching and Learning Grant Scheme (STALGS) in 2005, Richard developed best practice principles for studio teaching of group projects. He found that student groups need to be taught teamwork skills and, as a result, introduced workshops that feature:

  • learning styles tests that introduce notions of diversity and varying team role preferences
  • brainstorming
  • inclusive communication skills
  • development of team contracts which define rules for collaboration.

After surveying students about their perceptions of the assessment of team assignments, Richard responded to concerns about inequity in relation to student contribution and reward by developing an online self and peer continuous assessment application that allows students to assess each other's weekly contribution to group work in an anonymous School intranet. Improved grades among the teams that used this application, along with improved student evaluations in relation to teamwork skills acquired during the unit, offered evidence of the benefits resulting from this application.

In a 2007 STALGS project, Richard continued to evaluate and refine the self and peer continuous assessment application, piloting it in three units with 2000 students participating in collaborative group assignments. He compared the benefits of different components of the application by varying students' exposure to quantitative feedback, qualitative feedback and access to peer feedback, and used his findings to develop guidelines for unit chairs to tailor the application to their disciplines.

Richard also enhanced assessment by developing a design assessment taxonomy which clarifies the feedback given to students.

Integration of sustainable design theory and practice is another area of innovation. Richard rewrote a second-year unit to incorporate resource efficient design as a first principle rather than a specialty knowledge area. In the related unit, Building Environmental Studies, Richard devised a multidisciplinary project-based team design assignment, which features application of ten weekly lecture topics to the improvement, with Environmentally Sustainable Design in mind, of houses designed by local architects. Students present their redesigned houses to the original architects. A number of students who undertaken this unit have since gone on to work with firms specialising in Environmentally Sustainable Design. One architecture firm was so impressed by student presentations on "improved" versions of its designs that it sponsored a student placement for the top performing student in the program. Sustainable design knowledge and related collaboration skills are reinforced in a project-based studio program for fourth year students.

Data from Richard's 2005 pilot study of group design work revealed a higher attrition rate and lower grades among international students. In a 2006 STALGS project he aimed to address these problems by advancing, through research, culturally inclusive teaching of collaborative design projects. As a result, Richard restructured design units to offer a choice of teachers and programs, providing a variety of learning contexts around shared themes, learning outcomes, deadlines and design reviews.

Principles of Teaching and Learning principle 5 and principle 6

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Enhancing teaching

Richard has led three STALGS projects around problems relating to group learning. These have resulted in the innovations briefly described in relation to his Approaches and Methods.

Student feedback and evaluations of units affirm the benefits and improvements flowing from Richard's innovations. Grades for group design projects have also improved, and the proportion of dysfunctional teams fell from 40% in 2003 to 18% in 2005 and 2006 following the introduction of group learning enhancements.

Richard successfully completed the Deakin Graduate Certificate of Higher Education. He found this study program dovetailed effectively with his pedagogical investigations and later published the papers he wrote while undertaking the course.

Research and teaching

Since joining Deakin, Richard has pursued his scholarly passion for design pedagogy. He has more than 20 publications and has received eight grants in relation to this previously neglected area of education.

He is seeking funding for a collaborative project with the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Melbourne and Adelaide Universities to pursue improvements in design pedagogy at a national level.

The next phase of his work will be to expand his research around pedagogy for design through collaboration with international partners.

Leadership

As Associate Head of School (Teaching and Learning) Richard is taking a leadership role in:

  • linking teaching and learning and teaching scholarship
  • leading course development and course approval
  • strategic course review and reform
  • facilitating information exchange to enhance pedagogy.

Richard also fosters undergraduate research by mentoring fifth-year students and co-authoring papers for conference submission. Several publications have resulted, an achievement given the limited opportunities for publication in architectural design.

Qualifications

  • BSc, BArch, PhD [Bath]
  • GradCertHigherEd [Deakin]

Awards/fellowships

2007

  • Carrick Citation (now Australian Learning and Teaching Council—ALTC) for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for innovative teaching, assessment and related scholarship in enabling effective collaborative, multidisciplinary, studio-based learning in architectural design
    WJC Banks Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning
    Vice-Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching
    Deakin University Award for Teaching Excellence

Grants

2009

  • STALGS grant—Negotiating Flexible Learning: A Tool for Matching Learners' and Teachers' Perceptions and Expectations of Flexible Pedagogies

2007

  • STALGS grant (Project leader)—Fair Assessment and Reflective Learning: A cross-faculty online self-and-peer-assessment tool for teamwork assignments piloted in architecture and business communications, Faculty of Science and Technology

2006

  • STALGS grant (Project leader)—Enhancing Independent Experiential Learning for Undergraduate Students

2005

  • STALGS grant (Project leader)—Establishing Best Practice for the Teaching of Group Design Projects

Publications

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Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

8th June 2011