PLACE, SPACE, FACE: FACTORS AFFECTING STUDENT PARTICIPATORY RETICENCE AND AN INTERVENTION
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Hilton, Clive David
Institution: Coventry University, United Kingdom
Based on case studies in live learning situations and on-going doctoral research, this paper discusses the issue of observed student participatory reticence among international postgraduate industrial product design students and provides examples of interventions designed to overcome it. Within the secondary literature, participatory reticence among international students – most especially Chinese students – is often held to be an inevitable manifestation of national cultural characteristics that sit in behavioural contrast to that exhibited by students of other nationalities. The paper establishes the background context for situated student learning behaviours and how they are manifested, and leads to a discussion of a pedagogical intervention that the author has designed specifically to help overcome participatory reticence among design students. The intervention has been tested within several postgraduate design courses, both at Coventry University and at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. The intervention is conducted within an informal classroom topology that encourages active student participation within a modified learning space. The outcomes powerfully demonstrate how the situational characteristics of a teaching space, the power-distance dynamic between tutor and student, and the particularities of the learning challenge itself can be successfully reframed to demonstrably reduce student inhibition and participatory reticence. The paper contains links to short video clips that capture the intervention in action, showing how introversion and reluctance give way to near-universal extroverted participation. An unanticipated beneficial outcome of the intervention is that participating students of all nationalities – including UK students – were extremely positive in their feedback in terms relating to how it helped to reduce wider introverted classroom behaviour and diminish crosscultural boundaries. Perhaps controversially, students declared these interventions to be fun.