Module Integration to Stimulate Critical-Thinking, Interest & Proficiency: A Case-Study in Built Environment Design & Technology (D&T) Education
2023-09-14, 08:40– (Asia/Tokyo), 4F Large Conference Room

Holistic building design, Integrated Design process (IDP), green-building rating and Building Information Modelling (BIM) are common terms within the built-environment discipline today. The framework of all these approaches dictates various consultants to synthesize their expertise towards achieving sustainability targets moving away from the conventional model of transferring drawings or concepts from one consultant to another. It is hence vital to step away from this traditional system starting with the education model. With ‘skills’ being the focus of technical education most modules are taught in isolation from each other creating perspective gaps. Experiential gaps (Bloom, 1956) within every level reduces iterative approach to address fundamental knowledge. These gaps have led to focussed learning but with disconnected perspectives. The teaching team of the diploma in Architectural Technology & Building Services (ABS), at the School of Engineering, Temasek Polytechnic has attempted to bridge these disconnections in learning gaps by the horizontal and vertical integration of knowledge and skills across various core modules. As a pilot initiative, effort was made to design projects and lab-sheets, to focus on a common authentic scenario, in this case a new building development. In another case, project timelines and deliverables were framed to drive knowledge and skill amalgamation satisfying the project needs of either module at the same time. Taken forward to the next semester, the same scenario was revisited and built-upon using a newly learnt skillset. Focused group interviews and surveys indicate critical thinking, deep-learning, and ability to inter-connect concepts were positive outcomes of the exercise. The integration of teaching materials had a greater impact on cognition than assessments, in this case projects. However, the ability of students’ grasp in one module impacted their performance across all the integrated modules. Changes in groups and peers across modules and levels also impacted learning integration and project deliverables.

As an example, for vertical integration, the curriculum includes digital modelling for architecture, digital modelling of building services and performance simulation through three semesters. By focusing lab-sheets to address the same context, the students tend to relate, analyse, and evaluate not only their skills but also their relationship to each other. In another case of horizontal integration, project timelines and deliverables were framed to drive knowledge and skill amalgamation satisfying the project needs of either module at the same time. Taken forward to the next semester, revisiting the same deliverable led to reflection and meta-cognition. The impact on critical thinking and skill-proficiency is comparatively notable, especially when driven by the teaching team and learning materials.


critical thinking, built environment, curriculum integration, sustainability


Sowmya Sathish is a lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore. She holds a degree in Architecture from India and is a master's graduate in Building Science from the National University of Singapore. After an industry experience of 5 years, she pursued teaching in 2015. In 2021, she was a shortlisted finalist for the President's Award for Teachers. The award recognizes educators for their critical role in molding the nation's future. As a dual professional, her pedagogical approaches are directed towards practice-based education stimulated by technology and inclusivity for learning.