A theoretical framework for the studio as a learning environment

  • Carol B. Brandt
  • Katherine Cennamo
  • Sarah Douglas
  • Mitzi Vernon
  • Margarita McGrath
  • Yolanda Reimer


In this article we describe a holistic, ecological framework that takes into account the surface structures and pedagogical approaches in the studio and how these elements are connected to the construction of design knowledge: epistemology. In our development of this framework, we came to understand how disciplinary underpinnings and academic culture shape the ways that studio is enacted. Using practice theory, we illustrate our framework with two examples—one in Industrial Design and another in Human Computer Interaction—that demonstrate the ways in which the studio can act as a bridge between academic and professional communities. We came to see the studio as a unique practice community that connects academic and professional contexts. We argue that successful implementation of studio-based learning involves an awareness of disciplinary canons, ontological approaches to knowledge, and the academic constraints on studio-based approaches to learning.


Studio bridge Design knowledge Practice community Human computer interaction Industrial design 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments offered by anonymous reviewers. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant Award No. 0725290, 0725145, and 0725215. The ideas presented in this paper were developed by the first and second authors in conversations with the other four authors. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of NSF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol B. Brandt
    • 1
  • Katherine Cennamo
    • 2
  • Sarah Douglas
    • 3
  • Mitzi Vernon
    • 4
  • Margarita McGrath
    • 5
  • Yolanda Reimer
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Curriculum, Instruction, & Technology EducationTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Learning Sciences and TechnologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computer and Information ScienceUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  4. 4.School of Architecture + Design, Industrial Design ProgramVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  5. 5.School of Architecture + Design, Architecture ProgramVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  6. 6.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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