The role of student-staff partnership and collaborative learning in interior design education



Design Education Research


  • collaborative learning, critical thinking, radical pedagogy, reciprocal peer tutoring (RPT), research equals teaching (R=T), student-staff partnership


This paper aims to propose and motivate further research in the sphere of Interior Design education in a private college environment in South Africa. The study focuses on finding strategies that motivate for student-staff partnership and collaborative learning in the theory subject of Critical Studies (CS) within a hybrid/online learning environment. The discussion takes the reader on a journey of analysis and discussion starting with traditional method of education and alternative pedagogies; the value of critical thinking skills in the twenty-first century and research based-education. The emphasis is on Critical Theory in Higher Education (HE) as a valuable drive in stimulating self-reflection that produces graduates that are contributing members to our society.

Furthermore as we approach the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as well as the present challenges we face in the midst of a pandemic, educators need to re-evaluate current methods of lecture delivery especially when hybrid/online learning is fast becoming the ‘new normal’. The focus remains on learning rather than just teaching. Student-staff partnership, collaborative learning, and reciprocal peer tutoring (RPT) are identified as potential strategies that may be used to engage and stimulate students. The author of this paper is also the researcher and a practising academic in the field of Critical Studies in a private college environment.

The inquiry relies on developing pilot lectures informed by interviews with colleagues and conducting focus groups with students in an effort to identify recurring themes and strategies that maybe used in order to develop ways of integrating student-staff partnership and collaborative learning within a hybrid/online learning environment. Those will be implemented during academic year 2022 (Second Phase). Throughout this process, it is important to note that students are continuously involved and consulted.

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