statement of teaching philosophy and goals

Note: Graduate Advising and Mentoring are not applicable

Since my KU arrival in the fall of 2014, the primary course for which I am responsible is VISC 404 “Designing Social Interactions” which covers the foundations of screen-based interactive design. I have also taught VISC 201 “Introduction to Visual Communication”, and an elective, ADS 560 “Design for Social Innovation”.

I view my teaching about design as an inseparable extension of my ideas about it as a practice and body of knowledge.

  • Visual form has meaning.
  • That meaning is derived from the larger cultural context.
  • Design is for living, breathing people -- not anonymous market demographics.
  • Design shapes behavior and our understanding of the world.
  • Design is as much a process and relationship as a final product.

As a design educator, I strive to:

  • Elevate students’ fundamental knowledge of design;
  • Elevate students’ critical thinking about design and its uses;
  • Impart an understanding of the theories and principles underpinning design;
  • Engage students with the topic on multiple levels through their thinking and making;
  • Instill a nuanced understanding of the given problem through students’ project work;
  • Help students contextualize what they are making;
  • Develop students’ sense of internal motivation for their work;
  • Help students learn how to learn

How I organize my course materials and activities to help students achieve specific course goals

Visual communication is rooted in, and evolves through, making and application of ideas. Design is thinking made visual, so it follows that making should be balanced with thinking. Sufficient theory and principles now undergird design practice and the best education provides a healthy dose of ideas that influence making. In support of this, my course materials typically include a basic design brief containing the problem and subsequent activities and literature to support a thoughtful and innovative solution to that problem. A typical week in my studio classroom evidences a wide variety of progressive educational approaches. PDF lectures I author are delivered as homework and discussed in class, allowing more time for small group or one-on-one project discussion and guided making during class time. All course resources such as syllabi, project briefs and updates, and support materials are delivered electronically via a course website, accessible 24/7. Students are required to post process work and reflection on their own blogs, further reflecting a blended classroom environment. These strategies establish an active think-make-reflect cycle where the three heavily inform one another and sometimes occur simultaneously. Further, deeper learning is achieved through the wide range of engagement in learning, from physical prototyping of projects to critical peer dialogue, from software demos to student presentations of their work. 

Assessing student achievement further reflects my priorities for high quality student work. Most all design projects are evaluated on four primary areas:

final artifact / course objectives (40%)
this is the final object seen by the audience and must communicate properly on its own; students demonstrate through this artifact the extent of their learning, relative to my stated objectives.

craftsmanship / visual/verbal presentation (20%)
this is “the final package” shown to the client or audience -- how carefully created the artifact is and how well it is presented, in order to make a memorable impression.

participation (10%)
students practice on a daily basis their verbal articulation skills to eventually communicate professionally to their creative team, supervisors, clients, etc.

process (30%)
education is a process, not just the final product, and this is the students’ chance to demonstrate internal motivation through risk-taking and thorough exploration of the tasks and ideas at hand. 

How my teaching experiences (including feedback from student evaluations) have shaped my ongoing goals and practices as a teacher

My teaching experiences constantly influence my goals and practices as a teacher. This is most obvious in my constant updating and revising of projects over the years based on personal and student assessment.

A recent example of how student feedback has shaped my teaching practices: In spring 2015, multiple students expressed dismay that my final grading criteria was different from their understanding of the project goals. The next semester I implemented a detailed grading rubric for each of the four grading areas stated above, with multiple course objectives itemized in the “final artifact/course objectives” area. This is now made available to students at the outset of the project as part of the project brief. The same form is given to them with their project grade indicated in addition to how they scored in each specific area.

Undergraduate Student Advising

Within the Design Department, Visual Communication advising occurs collectively on a predetermined date each term. Students sign up for slots and faculty are available in a classroom for brief one-on-one sessions with available faculty members. I have just completed my third semester of advising and understand on a basic level the advising process, Design curriculum, and wider educational options available to students. My goal is to help students focus on having their educational requirements met in the most efficient manner possible, while achieving a course load balance that suits their larger needs and goals, whether it be graduating on time, managing academic stress, or fulfilling part-time job requirements.

More informally, I hope to support my Design students outside of the classroom through personal conversations about their project work in my class (one-on-one feedback), discussions about design academics in general, and about what they can expect in the profession upon graduation. Not many students have visited me during office hours to talk, but I hope to change this a bit by a less comment-oriented grading form (critical monologue) and a prompt to meet with me for further feedback when I give them grades – the idea being to move to more of a detailed and personal dialogue that may open up new questions or ideas for the student. It also rewards students who are motivated to seek additional feedback while saving my time on uninterested students. This has resulted in three meeting requests for my most recent project, a trend on which I hope to build.