Practical Learning in the VisualDESIGNLab: Designing for Clients in an Undergraduate Academic Environment

By Patricia Murphey.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is a case study on the introduction of a practicum pedagogical environment in the visual communication program at Northern Arizona University. The intention is to examine the challenges that arise when students are exposed to professional standards but are also bound to academic requirements. I will examine these challenges and the ways in which we were able to surpass them and produce success stories. I will describe the development and implementation of the VisualDESIGNLab as part of the academic curriculum of the Visual Communication program and provide an analysis of the students’ learning experiences and outcomes. One of the main aspects taken into consideration for this study, is the students’ exposure to a workplace where they create professional relationships with clients, adhere to real professional practices, deliverables, budgets, deadlines, guidelines and restrictions. The VisualDESIGNLab is a space where the students relate their gained theoretical knowledge to the practical realm and can truly understand design processes and methodologies. Another important aspect of this paper is the analysis the role of the professor, creative director and mentor, and how this role shifts as needed throughout the semester and how it contributes to the students’ practical experience.

Keywords: Design Education, Practical Learning, Design Studio, Practical Pedagogy, Design Practice, Collaborative Environment, Undergraduate Education

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.203-212. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 881.042KB).

Patricia Murphey

Assistant Professor of Visual Communication, Visual Communication Program, School of Communication, College of Social & Behavior Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Patricia Murphey, Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at Northern Arizona University. Director of the VisualDESIGNLAb, Graphic Designer. MFA, Academy of Art University; BFA, Faculdade da Cidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Principal, Patricia Murphey Design, Flagstaff, AZ. Patricia has been a graphic designer, art director, creative director and design educator for the past 16 years. She has worked in Chicago, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Flagstaff. Her design work has won her a 1999 The San Francisco Show 13, a 1999 ADDY Award and a 2009 American Design Award. At NAU, she founded the Visual Design Lab, where she works with students, public agencies and non-profit organizations providing design solutions for clients.

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