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The "Tour de Pasenville": an induction exercise

Tim Heath (Department of Architecture and the Built Environment).

Dr Tim Heath is Director of the Institute of Architecture in the School of the Built Environment. Kate Exley came to talk to him about the "Tour de Pasenville", a cross-year design project modelled on the "Tour de France", which aims to introduce new students to key concepts in design and each other in a friendly competitive exercise that runs in the second week of Semester 1. This is an innovative School based approach to first year Induction.

Can you give me a brief overview of what happens on the "Tour"?

Students working together on a projectWell this year we had something like 220 first year students working in about ten teams with a mixture of students from each of the other years in the School including Masters students. That's a lot of students, well over 500. The students are involved in a series of design tasks over 2 very full days, which get more and more demanding. So they start with very small-scale tasks, such as designing the logo and team T-shirt and name for their team, and build up to much bigger design productions associated with the development of a real site. This year is was a plot of land in the Lace Market but I think we will look at an on-campus location for 2005.

Why is it called the "Tour de Pasenville"'?

We had a Special Professor in the School - Ted Cullinan - who was very keen on the "Tour de France" and the theme caught on - the students present their work at the end of each activity or "stage" by putting together a 5-minute video of their design. These are viewed by to a panel of judges and the stage winners are selected. The stage winners are awarded the equivalent of the yellow jersey and get coloured T-shirts.   It adds to the fun of the two days.

What do you see as the main purposes of the "Tour"?

Student with projectWithout a doubt it is to get the students to mix and settle in. It is a good way to get the various year groups mixing together and encourages team working and communication, The students' "Architecture Society" organise a social gathering that follows-on from the Tour and this also helps the students to get to know each other and the staff in the School. It helps create a cohesive grouping of students.

What do your new students make of it all?

It is very popular with the students. They don't realise how much they are learning because they feel it is a social event. About 35% of our student intake comes from overseas and some of the International students can find it a bit surprising. I think it really helps them to mix with the home students too.

At the end of the first year we asked the students if we should run the "Tour" again and they definitely thought this would be a good idea.

I can see that it would be very beneficial for the new students but what do the other students get out of the experience?

Student with projectBecause it is good fun and a chance to work in the mixed teams the students seem to get involved easily and the majority of students enjoy it. Next year we are planning to scale it down a little and we will focus on putting teams together of the new students in Year One with the Diploma 6th year students with the latter group acting as facilitators. The 6th year students also get involved in design studio teaching during the year and this introductory meeting with new first year students is a good way of introducing them.

Is it a costly exercise?

Not really. We try to get all the staff involved, which means about 15 to 18 staff are facilitating the stages. We use our own space and resources such as photocopiers and computing facilities. Probably the only additional cost has been the coloured T-shirts.

How will is change this year?

The groups were a bit big last year so we will keep the numbers lower by focussing on the involvement of Year 1 and Year 6 students. The development site we will keep on campus to cut down on the travel time into the City and we will give the students a clearer brief for the tasks.

So logistically, what's involved in running the "Tour"?

Student with projectI, and some of my colleagues meet with the 6th Year students on the Friday before the Tour. The 6th Year students will effectively be the team leaders with 3 or 4 Year Six students being allocated to each team. We show them the site plans and give them the introductory material for the design tasks. We will be putting together the materials over the summer. They consist of site plans, maps, design briefs etc and it will take a bit of time and planning to get these produced.

The Tour doesn't count for any credits but it is a key event, which is timetabled and compulsory for all first year students.

Peer teaching resource 6 of 6
An induction programme that encourages new students to learn from their more experienced peers. Produced June 2005.
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