Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Art and Design

First Advisor

Dorothy L. Fowles


This study is an experimental endeavor involving two instructional interventions for teaching a design concept. The sustainable design concept of 'interior daylighting' is instructed to the third year interior design students as part of the lectures in the 'Interior Materials Systems and Details IV' course. The purpose of the study is to analyze and compare the effectiveness of using active learning strategies with the lecture method of instruction. The effectiveness of the strategies is assessed based on the following three questions coined by Prof. Bonwell along with Bloom's Cognitive Taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956): "(1) What do I want my students to know? (2) What do I want my students to do? (3) What do I want my students to feel?" (Bonwell, 1996, p. 6).;The thesis research methodology addresses various active learning strategy issues raised by earlier researchers. The students are randomly assigned to the two instructional method groups by using a statistical table of random numbers. The learning assessment is done using pre- and post-intervention methods, which includes Interior Design Analysis (IDA) exercise of an interior space and Interior DayLighting (IDL) Quiz. The course Design Project (DP) review and Student Reflection (SR) writing activity on the instructional methods are also used to assess the students' learning experience.;Inferential statistical analysis was used to establish causal relationship, if any, between the instructional method and learning effectiveness from the obtained results/assessments. Statistical tests like independent t-tests, inter-rater reliability, and frequency distribution of values were used for the analysis. The statistical and content analysis of data from the research tests indicated that both the Lecture and Active Learning groups showed some improvement in their overall performance after the instructional intervention.;Though the overall difference in performance between the groups was not very high, the active learning group showed a relatively significant better performance in the higher order questions compared to the lecture group. In conclusion, the active learning instructional module appears to have been effective in creating higher order thinking (at least for the short term) among the students. Though the research failed to establish a significant relationship between instructional method and information transfer across course contexts; it could serve as a suggestion for possible future research to test transfer of information across courses. Even within the course, in the final design projects of the active learning students compared to the lecture students seem to be relatively more effective in integrating the daylight design theories and concepts within their designs. Using qualitative analysis, the research also revealed attitude difference among students and the positive thoughts and reactions to the daylighting instructional intervention by the active learning students. The student reflection on the instruction methods gave insights into the general research procedure and the effectiveness of smaller groups and also the importance of student participation in the learning process.;Finally, the research shows that though certain issues in incorporating active learning in conventional lectures were addressed in this study, more refinements need to be done to improve this model for future research in this subject. For this limited sample, the active learning instructional module showed relative increase in performance than the lecture method of instruction, suggesting its potential for replacing conventional teacher-centered lectures in design non-studio courses.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Geethapriya Balasubramanian



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181 pages