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SPIP: Studio-based Learning


Studio-based learning (SBL) is rooted in the apprentice model of learning in which students study with master designers or artists to develop their craft. It emphasizes learning by doing, often through community-based design problems and is an integral pedagogy in architecture, urban planning and fine and applied arts.1

Primary concepts that drive SBL include:

  • Students work like apprentices in a common space under the tutelage of a “master.”
  • Students interact when needed with each other on their designs.
  • Students undergo periodic critiques, known as “crits,” of their designs, projects, or products. Crits are for gaining knowledge about your work. They occur student-to-master first and then evolve self-learning crits between peers.
  • It is driven by the pragmatic. The idea is to get your hands in your work, get it done, revise it to perfect it, and self-evaluate the results.
  • Final work or products are presented publicly.2
  1. Wolske, M., Rhinesmith, C., & Kumar, B. (2014). Community Informatics Studio: Designing experiential learning to support teaching, research, and practice. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 166-177. 
  2. Retrieved from


SBL as a pedagogy to immerse students in authentic real world projects and real world processes.

Spartanburg Community College. (2012, July 11). Studio-based learning. [Video file.]
       Retrieved from


Although diverse in its forms, studio-based learning always focuses on learning through action and developing an assessable creative and/or design process, performance or product. Assessing creativity is controversial, not least because of the multiple ways people construe creativity, but also because of the highly personal way in which we experience and make judgements about it.  Do explore this resource to Strategies & Challenges of Assessing SBL.

Studio Teaching Project aims to describe the characteristics of studio-based learning in Art, Architecture and Design disciplines, and to identify examples of effective studio teaching that enhance both the student and staff experience and optimise learning outcomes. The site includes a toolkit to inform and stimulate studio teaching practices.

Key Features

Mitchell, P. (2017). A case study of the application of Studio-Based Learning
pedagogy in Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Animation and 3D Arts (A3DA) diploma.
       Paper session presented at Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference,
       National Institute of Education, Singapore.

Projects - design project/develop a product under the supervision of a “master designer”/lecturer


Class Crits - students participate in periodic critiques, known as “crits,” of their designs/projects/products. Crits are conducted student-to-master/lecturer first followed by evolving self-learning crits between peers


Dailies - a term used within the film making/animation industry. Where raw footage is shared on a daily basis - as a milestone check


One to one mentoring - coaching with master designer/lecturer


Portfolio Development - continued development of project working towards completion of project with inputs from master and peers


Teamwork/Self reliance - self or team directed development - depending on project type (individual or team based)


Public Exhibition - showcase final product to a public audience (fellow students, lecturers, parents, general public)

Book Resources


 Describes the history and rationale of studio-based
 teaching. Provides a clear description of the design
 studio model for effective learning.

 Lackney, J. A. ( 1999). A history of the studio-based learning
          model. Retrieved from


 An analysis of the studio as the signature pedagogy
 of design education. This paper also identifies the
 opportunities for technological intervention and
 enhancement of the design studio.

 Crowther, P. (2013). Understanding the signature pedagogy of the
                                         design studio and the opportunities for its technological
                                         enhancement.  Journal of Learning Design, 6(3), 18-28.
                                         Retrieved from http://


 Paper describes how the Minneapolis College of Art and 
 Design uses elements of the traditional studio-based
 model for online design courses. Demonstrates how art and
 design education can be done effectively online.

  Alm, R. (2018). Re-creating the studio-based model online for
                                          art and design education. Retrieved from https://secure.