Multifaceted Benefits of Studio Based Service Learning

By Jennifer Blanchard Belk.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Paper describes a course which utilized a local non-profit organization as the client for a senior ID studio. The goal is to not only encourage more integration of service learning but also, in these hard economic times, to empower professionals to seek adjunct and visiting instructor opportunities and use their professional and personal contacts to create enriching opportunities for their students. A senior (non-office) studio partnered with an inter-denominational church that was without direction on their upcoming building campaign. It will be shown how the process not only benefited multiple entities, but also facilitated the meeting of course objectives in a more significant way. There can be challenges to such an endeavor but early planning and an open dialog with the client group and students alleviated many issues. Concerns included: aligning client expectations with course competencies; dealing with hesitations and beliefs/preferences of students; and requiring potential preliminary planning for instructor.

The paper will take readers through the course layout and provide tangible techniques to alleviate these issues. Readers will understand how benefits of this type of union extended farther than just to the students involved. Findings showed: 1.) Students grew primarily from the client interaction and real world application. Course objectives were enriched through the inclusion of an authentic client, tangible project site, and communication opportunities; 2.) The client received design ideas for future building campaigns and assistance with developing the organization’s facility goals; 3.) For the instructor, this served as an important addition to the teaching and service categories of academic advancement and offered professional exposure and supplemental consultation opportunities; and 4.) Program exposure to community was an advantage for the university while the ID profession benefited from exposing locals to the true responsibilities of interior designers.

Keywords: Design Instruction, Service Learning, Community Involvement, Employment Opportunities

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.73-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.713MB).

Jennifer Blanchard Belk

Assistant Professor, Department of Design, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC, USA

Jennifer Blanchard Belk is in her ninth year of teaching in both private and public collegiate environments with administrative and hiring experience. She holds a graduate MAE degree, NCIDQ certification, LEED accreditation, and has the significant industry experience and advanced computer skills to teach most upper level college ID coursework. She serves in multiple local IIDA capacities for student event planning and won the 2006 Educator Award for the Carolinas Chapter. Her principle creative and scholarly endeavors include environmental design, BIM integration into ID curriculum, liturgical design and facilitating student professional involvement and travel. Prior to teaching, she was a project manager for primarily corporate interiors and currently consults on small scale renovations and upfits.


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