Out of the Lecture and Into the Studio: A New Take on Teaching Design History


Design education, design history, studio-based instruction, lecture-based instruction


Studio-based instructional models have been a central landmark of architecture and design education for nearly 100 years. However, studio models are typically found only in courses teaching design skills or practices, while design history and theory remain trapped in traditional, lecture-based formats. These traditional history courses offer little opportunity for active engagement and often fail to communicate appreciable values for young practicing designers who struggle with an instructional format that is so markedly different-and more passive than the majority of their studio-based courses

In this paper, we discuss the conversion of a traditional, lecture-based, design history course to a studio-based model, where students actively engage in researching designers and subsequently apply their newfound knowledge by creating class presentations and leading class discussions. We begin by defining studio-based instruction, contrast that with lecture-based approaches, and provide a rationale for changing the course’s instructional approach. We then outline the basic structure of the new studio-based course format, including multiple phases of research, presentation development and execution, and evaluation. Finally, we discuss how student engagement and the quality of learning has improved under the studio-based model as indicated by students’ course and instructor evaluation scores and reflect on the overall experience and future of the course.

Original Publication Citation

Howell, B., & Christensen, K. (2013). Out of the Lecture and into the Studio: A New Take on Teaching Design History. Conference proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Growing Our Future (E&PDE13), Dublin, Ireland, September 5-6.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL







Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor