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Surveying Our Field: Will you participate?

February 17, 2012

By Judith Kinnard, President

As educators we all know that data can drive decision making at our schools and in our studios. People use data to reveal transformative trends, and they use it as a weapon. With this in mind I want to urge you to participate in two upcoming surveys that are extremely important to architectural education. 

In April you will receive an invitation from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) to complete their “Practice Analysis of Architecture” survey. This periodic effort identifies, in NCARB’s words, “the tasks and knowledge/skills necessary for the independent practice of architecture.” The survey’s results are used to calibrate the Architect Registration Exam, to inform the Intern Development Program, and, mostly importantly for ACSA members, to prepare the NCARB’s positions going into the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Accreditation Review Conference. 

The ACSA Board of Directors is concerned that the next round of Conditions revisions will keep with the tradition of expanding the required content for our curricula, particularly in areas such as business skills, technical documentation, and code compliance, with no corresponding diminution of other requirements. 

NCARB has been clear in their intent to use the Practice Analysis to address deficiencies in architectural education. They attempted this four years ago, and we rebutted their attempts to derive mandates from the Practice Analysis survey. 

To NCARB’s credit, this edition of the Practice Analysis has been expanded to solicit input from educators, students, and industry professionals, as well as from licensed architects, an audience of approximately 80,000 people. NCARB has invited representatives from ACSA and the other collateral organizations to participate in their survey planning process, and the organization plans to isolate responses from different groups of respondents to better clarify differences of opinion on certain issues. 

Many among the ACSA membership voice concerns that practitioners fail to understand the goals of architectural education, and that we struggle to effectively communicate these. The Practice Analysis is an important opportunity for us to convey what we believe are the essential “tasks and knowledge/skills,” to use NCARB’s language, for contemporary practice. 

Backed by a broader audience and scope, the Practice Analysis results will influence the 13 members of the NAAB board who will vote on changes to the Conditions that will affect graduates through 2018. We stand the best chance of having our voices heard by being a part of the Practice Analysis survey than by avoiding it. When you receive your invitation in April to take the survey, please take the time to complete it.

In closing, I want to ask you to encourage students in your programs to take the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) “Financial Survey of Architecture Students.” With the survey, the AIAS is interested in analyzing the total cost of an architectural education, as well as sources of funding. We share our students’ concerns regarding the rising costs of professional education and we will all benefit from a clearer sense of the current situation. 

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Boston to celebrate architectural education on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of ACSA

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