Studio pedagogy is an approach more than a place (Lerner, 2009). While Active Learning Spaces can encourage certain habits of mind in both teachers and students, it's pedagogy that defines what the writing studio really is (Brooks & Solheim, 2014). The studio approach affords ways of teaching beyond the lecture, seminar, or discussion. The classroom becomes a workspace. Our program emphasizes active and accessible learning, play, design, and digital literacies. The WAT curriculum encourages instructors in all classrooms to engage studio approaches to pedagogy, both in the Active Learning Center and outside of it.
The studio approach affords ways of teaching beyond the lecture, seminar, or discussion. The classroom becomes a workspace. Studio pedagogy, in our program, means:
What makes writing studio pedagogy different from other kinds of classes?
- Active Learning. Lectures and discussion aren't a significant part of studio pedagogy. Instead, students should be engaged in activities during nearly the entire class time. In this way, it's like other familiar kinds of studios--for example, in an art studio, artists spend their time working on their art, not talking about it or listening to lectures on art. In the writing studio, students should be working on their writing.
- Access. The studio space should be accessible to all kinds of students, in large part because they get to shape and direct the activity in the space. The writing studio foregrounds Universal Design for Learning by providing multiple ways for students to engage in learning.
- Collaboration. Part of what makes the studio really different from the ways students work on writing in their own time is being able to interact with each other. Activities should often involve sustained group work. The studio is an ideal place for students to practice vital collaborative writing skills--something that isn't intuitive and takes practice.
- Workshop. Some studio time should be set aside for peer review and workshopping, which gives students the chance to get feedback that will help them improve their projects and also allows them to critically analyze each other's work (which in turn prompts them to be more critical of their own work).
- Experimentation, Creativity, Play. Students should be encouraged to take risks in the writing studio. Activities should be structured so that students aren't penalized for "failure." Students should be encouraged to try new things and figure things out on their own through experimentation without always receiving precise instructions.
- Digital Literacy, Design. This emphasis on experimentation and play makes the studio the ideal place for students to try out new technologies and modes of composition. The studio should give students space to work with different technologies and pay attention to rhetorical design choices across media.
- Support. The studio is also a time where instructors can check in on students and give them individual feedback on projects while everyone works. Students also get the opportunity to support each other as they work collaboratively on projects.