the Ideal Student

The Ideal Student—reflection following Lego Bento DMLL session.

The 3D model above signifies my understanding of the ideal student:

The ideal student is someone who is curious and observes the world. Someone who understands that they shape their own experiences. She would be someone with care and attention to detail, unafraid to put in the work. She would be someone self-aware enough to surpass their own limitations and celebrate collaboration (hence the foot facing right). Someone with ‘interchangeable heads’—able to not take themselves too seriously but also apply intellectual depth into the design process.

the Ideal Academic

The Ideal Academic—reflection following Lego Bento DMLL session.

The 3D model above signifies my understanding of the ideal academic:

The ‘ideal’ academic is someone who seeks to elevate and create a progression of knowledge for their students. Someone who values discipline and structure but allows of disruptions in routine and space for creativity. The ideal academic builds her classes on the student’s existing knowledge (see blue layer); She will take into account not only the academic aptitudes of her students, but their affective tendencies as well. She will endeavor to allow students to follow their own path and she will create the environment to facilitate independent decision making. She will appreciate her student’s background and enable them to re-connect with childhood’s curiosity.

Collected notes on teaching

Below are a set of incidental observations I made throughout the year when teaching first year students on the Graphic Design course.

GROUP WORK

  • Random groups work, but the ability to meet  regularly in those groups is crucial in terms of enabling students to monitor progress.
  • Sessions must be planned but allow for flexibility—feedback sessions usually depend on turn-up and poor attendance usually leads to a weak class.

SEMINARS and WORKSHOPS

Full freedom is detrimental at first year level. Students respond much better if guided through. Timing tasks, restricting thinking time and scaffolding tasks throughout the day without giving it all away maintains good engagement.

LECTURES

  • Lectures need a very clear structure and a clear relation to their projects.
  • Students appreciate theoretical sessions if interrupted by active participation.
  • They commit to workshops that are active and purposeful in relation to the assessed task. Value must be made explicit.

A word on my approach to learning:

Whilst the dangers of homogenized teaching and the benefit of delivering for learning styles are common knowledge, I believe they must be taken with pinch of salt—the learning style, similar to deep/surface approaches to learning are not inbuilt or fully defining attributes, but rather fluctuating and habitual states. Students must develop multimodal approaches in order to expand their area of observation.

More conducive to effective teaching I found is an awareness of the processes of understanding students undergo when faced with new knowledge. This has impacted the way I react to student behavior in class and shed light on characteristics that whilst potentially frustrating are but normal states towards understanding, i.e. silence could be a normal step in assimilating knowledge.

Assessment Observations

Below are a set of observations I made on the quality of the assessed work and the assessment process demonstrated in the first semester.

Some of the main drawbacks identified in student work included:
-lack of attention in interpreting the brief
-patchy engagement in class led to confusion and generally poor and incomplete work
-work is rushed and lacking connection between the different output
– research is superficial and lacks curiosity. The use of Pinterest perhaps promoted this.

Research and critical engagement with practice is an ever-present learning outcome of the course that students have historically struggled with as they took a surface approach limited to moodboarding only. In an attempt to deter imitation learning and scaffold student’s understanding of motives behind design I developed a session saw students perform reflective practice following Kolb’s cycle of learning whereby they gathered research on a particular brand, reflected on and discussed their finding, applied finding to own work and evaluated results.  Considering the assessment results, this exercise has led to a considerable increase in student’s perception of research and depth of engagement with findings.