Strategy - one of the skills building sessions within the work(out)shop
Strategy - one of the skills building sessions within the work(out)shop

FULT Alumni Good Practice Case Studies

Work(out)shop – applying circuit-training theory to design-studio workshops

To solve the issue of dips in engagement in long-format studio classes, Work(out)shop prompts critical thinking via interactive videos at sequential group-learning stations.


Dr Alanya Drummond, with student colleague, Ms Shonnie Skehan.

Dr. Alanya Drummond, Lecturer, Interior Architecture, Built Environment
Dr Alanya Drummond

Lecturer, Interior Architecture, Built Environment
Ms. Shonnie Shekan
Ms Shonnie Skehan

Second year student, Bachelor of Interior Architecture (Hons), Built Environment










INTA3000 Second-Year Design Studio, Interior Architecture

Demonstration of good practice

Design studios typically span five hours or more, meaning sustained student engagement is challenging, particularly as students wait for tutor feedback (Pektas 2012, p.692). To fill these learning gaps, I developed 20 strategic-thinking videos that students watch in a circuit-training arrangement inspired by high-intensity interval training: short bursts of varied activities.  Originally implemented in T1 2019 with written instructions at each station, the work(out)shop was remade (with the support of a BE Digital Uplift Grant) as guided strategic-thinking videos for T1 2020 that are played during studio time.

The videos help students learn the content in an interactive, collaborative manner that bridges analogue and digital modes, and keep them engaged and on-task. This frees tutors to roam around the studio, talking to students both individually and in their working groups; this type of learning also gives tutors the chance to identify areas that need greater explanation and teaching, as well as those to which students have responded well (Masdéu & Fuses 2017, p.13). The work(out)shop aligns with research asserting that the design studio should teach students the collaborative working practices, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking required for success in the design industry (Emam, Taga & ElSayad 2019, p.165). 

An example of one of the stations is the ‘Strategy’ video, where students are stepped through a series of questions in which they define the target audience for their design project (in this case a popup transportable eatery) and then describe their design solution as a person, responding to prompts such as ‘what would they wear?’, ‘what music would they listen to?’. This visualisation exercise helps students to rapidly progress through large and small decisions in the resolution of their project. 


Emam, M, Taha, D & ElSayad, Z 2019, ‘Collaborative pedagogy in architectural design studio: A case study in applying collaborative design’ in Alexandria Engineering Journal, Volume 58, Issue 1, March 2019, pp. 163-170.

Masdéu, M & Fuses, J 2017, ‘Reconceptualising the Design Studio in Architectural Education: Distance Learning and Blended Learning as Transformation Factors’ in International Journal of Architectural Research, Vol. 11, Issue 2, pp.6-23.

Pektas S.T, 2012, ‘The Blended Design Studio: an appraisal of new delivery modes in design education’ in Procedia – Social & Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 51, pp. 692-697.

A tip for other educators

The work(out)shop is applicable to any long-format class where there is a need for sustained engagement. Videos of the course lecturer guiding students through thinking patterns provides a valuable opportunity to synchronously engage multiple small groups of students in idea-generation activities while connecting with others in need of feedback and support.
For those considering a work(out)shop format, I would recommend mapping the video content to the course objectives and assessment criteria to reinforce core learning objectives, and upskilling students in required competencies as well as helping them build self-confidence in strategic thinking.

Shonnie's story

I found the work(out)shops so helpful and applicable to my projects throughout the term. I found Alanya’s videos extremely supportive to the mind and nurturing to the thought processes that make the project come to life in a considered manner. They were not overwhelming, and they helped to get my ideas flowing in a clear and calm way.
When I originally saw the structure of the course and how short the projects would be, I’ll admit I was a little scared, because I have always been someone who likes to sit and think to develop my ideas, but the quick turnarounds did nothing but benefit me! The projects forced me not to overthink, which has led me down a long windy road in past projects. The way the video modules were able to switch our mindsets to that of developing a strategy rather than a concept really helped me.
This is a framework that I will take with me through my degree and career. Alanya’s consideration of our well-being as students through the work(out)shops is something that really made me engage and enjoy this course – it made me feel at ease and as though I was being cared for and emotionally considered during my learning.

Media links

Skills development strategy​​​​​

A video that students watch at one of the stations, prompting engagement and critical dialogue with their peers.