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Cognitive Mapping In Service Learning And Civic Engagement In A Studio Course With An Ada Accessible Project

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

AEC Education: Instructional Strategies and Innovation

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.299.1 - 13.299.12

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Paper Authors


Suining Ding Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne (Eng)

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Suining Ding is an assistant professor with Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. She has been actively engaged in innovative teaching. Her research interests include 3D digital modeling, Cross-cultural comparison of architecture, cognitive perceptions of interior space, relationships of human behaviour and environment.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Cognitive Mapping in Service Learning and Civic Engagement in a Studio Course with an ADA Accessible Project


Research findings confirm that service learning can benefit students, faculty, institutions, and communities by offering “real world” experience to students and quality design solutions to communities or organizations.2, 7 Currently, many universities have integrated service learning and civic engagement in university mission statement and curricula. However, the students’ emotional and psychological pattern in the design process through service learning has not been explored. This paper presents the result of the assessment of a service-learning project in a studio course for sophomore students majoring in interior design. The project is to design a single family house for Habitat for Humanity with an ADA accessible bath and kitchen. Data from students’ reflective journals is used to draw a descriptive map of the social-psychological stages that occur during service-learning. In addition, textual analysis reveals that students progress through three identifiable stages of development: exciting but lost, comfortable, and engagement. The recommendations were made to the body of knowledge of service learning. To increase the effectiveness of service-learning outcomes, faculty members must understand these specific cognitive processes that accompany community-based learning.

Statement of Purpose

This paper addresses the social-psychological aspects of students’ participation in the design process of an ADA accessible project for Habitat for Humanity (Habitat). Habitat is a self-help housing organization devoted to build “simple, decent, and affordable” housing for low income families. Homes are built using volunteer labor and are sold at no profit, with no interest charge on the mortgage. Accessibility is an important issue in current housing design for Habitat. An accessible house is one that can be approached, entered, and used independently by people with mobile disabilities. The nature of the project provides unique opportunities for students to understand the role of public service in making meaningful social contributions. This is a 4-week studio project that joins students, faculty and community partners together. Besides traditional design studio activities, students, faculty, and community partners worked together to help students experience a real project design process and real client interactions. Students have the opportunity to explore the links between community service and interior design. This project addresses several 2007 CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) 4 indicators regarding codes and regulations, barrier-free design guideline, as well as professional values and community service. The reason this course differs from most other courses is the students’ work and design will become a community partners’ potential design solutions.

According to Dewey’s 6 learning-by-doing theories, participation, or doing action involved in learning experience can lead to personal growth and professional growth. Service-learning in higher education is intended to increase students’ civic responsibility and enhance learning. The

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