This paper will share the methodology, experience and findings from two ‘student-as-co-creators’ projects (SCC) at the University of Westminster which ran in parallel from March to June 2021. These projects aimed to collect lived experiences and develop research tools to address thematic and systemic higher education (HE) issues surrounding ‘the awarding gap’ and ‘diversification’ of the curricula. Using innovative human-centred research methods, the projects explored ideas and applications of imaginative or communicative empathy as skills that can be nurtured to support strengthening of the learner voice and expand inclusion of diverse cultural values in architecture learning and teaching practices.
In the first SCC project, qualitative data were collected about interdisciplinary learner and educator experiences (questionnaires n=44, two focus groups, 9 participants). Preliminary analysis informed the development of a ‘learning and teaching’ workshop framework. In the second SCC project with architecture learners (and myself as an educator), a series of graphical research ‘devices’ or ‘tools’ were designed with the intention to provoke discussion and to enable self-reflection in future research sessions. The outputs of these two SCC projects were brought together in the design of an interactive, collaborative workshop framework for architecture learners and educators to participate and reflect together in addressing the HE educational issues identified above. A pilot workshop (July 2021: participants 10 students, 10 educators from across institutions) tested this framework in a session tailored for the specific learning environment of the architecture design studio. The ‘devices’ were used to stimulate conversation and thinking, resulting in rich (mixed-format) data being collected; menti-meter / JISC results, audio transcripts, graphical ‘devices’. Findings from the workshop respond to the symposium’s interest in exploring ‘who speaks’ and ‘for whom’ in architecture education. Suggestions will be made for future altered ‘learning and teaching practices’ that aim to better include diverse voices and values.