Scholarship of application and integration (Teaching)[1] 

Teaching areas: Field Schools, Design Studios, Theory and Methods Seminars, Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Curricular Initiative

Download a pdf document of my Curriculum Development Portfolio here.

Knowledge of design and culture is termed complex and “ill-structured.”[2] Problems associated with these knowledge domains are called “wicked problems” [3] because they are broad, complex, irregular, and not conducive to generalizations and even applications across diverse contexts. Researchers have suggested that knowledge-transfer and instructional emphasis on ill-structured domains should shift from learning of large generalizations and pre-compiled schemata to the assembling of knowledge encountered while solving problems in specific context.

Teaching Scaffolding

Teaching Scaffolding

My response to the challenges of “wicked problems”[4] is a curricular initiative called Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures (BLC). Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures scholars examine interdisciplinary and humanistic knowledge of the built environment. BLC began in 2008 as a concentration within the UWM doctoral program that focused on culture and the environment. BLC now serves students enrolled in the architecture and history of art doctoral programs at the UW Milwaukee and Madison campuses, respectively. Affiliates of BLC are faculty members on both campuses, with diverse research and teaching interests in housing, public and environmental history, urban and architectural history, material culture and cultural landscapes, urban and rural vernacular, and urban and architectural morphology.

Central to the BLC pedagogy is a critical examination of the field, as a location, as a classroom, as well as an object of analysis. It is in this setting that research takes place. Scholars produce empirical knowledge here. The critical interpretation of the field as a political site is also central to our scholarship. The field is our classroom and our teaching engages the former in reflexive ways.

BLC has been hailed as a novel and unique experiment in resource sharing, and a multi-disciplinary humanities education. According to UW Madison provost Patrick Farrell, “The two groups of faculty represent a critical mass of expertise that will be great for students and will allow all of these faculty to advance their scholarship more effectively.” According to Jocelyn Milner, director of UW-Madison Academic Planning and Analysis, Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures is “the first doctoral-level collaborative [effort] that is designed to share both overlapping curricular components and to share the experience of faculty in the mentoring and advising of graduate students.”

BLC promotes metacognition and learning via engagement. The former term refers to the ability to control, monitor, and maintain one’s learning ability. The latter is a pedagogy that can be traced back to John Dewey’s notion of learning as a “continual reorganization, reconstruction and transformation of experience.”[5] (This pedagogy emerges from my involvement with a scholarship of teaching and learning project while at Ball State University. A grant from Lumina Foundation allowed a group of educators, including me, to study ways to improve cognitive learning among students.)[6]  BLC promotes cognitive flexibility, a skill that enables students to use their knowledge in relevant ways in real-world situations. Figure (below) shows how I apply the learning objectives of BLC in my classes.

Teaching Methods


[1]  Based on criteria developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, I strive to make my teaching and service a scholarship of integration and application. This pedagogy of integration of research, teaching, and service was suggested by Ernest Boyer. Boyer laid out an integrated notion of scholarship that involved discovery, integration, application, and teaching.

Ernest Boyer and Lee Mitgang, Building Community: A New Future for Architectural Education and Practice (Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation, 1996), 8; Ernest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990), 18, 19, 22-24.

For a complete list of teaching and service activities please see c.v.

[2] Rand J. Spiro, R. L. Coulson, P. J.  P.J. Feltovich, and D. Anderson, “Cognitive Flexibility Theory: Advanced Knowledge Acquisition in Ill-structured Domains,” in  Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, ed. V. Patel (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1988). Reprinted in R. B. Ruddell and N. J. Unrau, Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading (Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 1994). pdf

[3] Horst W. J. Rittel, “On the Planning Crisis: Systems Analysis of the First and Second Generation,” in Bedriftokonomen 8 (1972): 398-401. pdf

[4] Horst Rittel uses the term “wicked” in order to describe architectural, planning and cultural problems.

Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber; “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” Policy Sciences 4 Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc., Amsterdam, (1973). pp. 155–169. pdf

[5] John Dewey, Democracy and Education (repr., New York: MacMillan, 1961).

[6] “Exploring the Novice-Expert Relationship in Core Curriculum and Early Major Courses,” was a three-year project funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education. Faculty participating in this project “developed field-specific, ‘high-involvement’ teaching and learning strategies in their respective areas of expertise to help students perform better. [see pdf  here for participating faculty] ‘Performing better’ in this instance meant helping early-majors or students in core classes ‘enter into’ a field, to understand how a discipline ‘makes meaning.’” As specialists in their field, faculty members had an intuitive understanding of expert-knowledge of the field (what John Bruer in Schools of Thought [1993] calls domain-specific knowledge). By incorporating recent scholarship on education and cognitive learning strategies (such as meta-cognitive skills, chunking, problem-based learning, and novice-expert learning models) the aim of the project was to integrate research on pedagogy into classroom strategies for the delivery of discipline-specific knowledge content.

John Bruer, Schools for Thought: A Science of Learning in the Classroom (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994); Benjamin Bloom, M. Englehart, E. Furst, W. Hill, and D. Krathwohl, “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals.” in Handbook I: Cognitive Domain (New York, Toronto: Longmans, Green, 1956).