Learn by Looking: Exercises in Resensitizing the Design Student

By Amy Johnson and Rukmini Ravikumar.

Published by The Design Collection

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

This paper asks the question, can you coerce students to look and therefore learn? Blame is often placed on technology and mass media for today’s disassociated student, the former for serving as a convenient crutch and the latter for de-sensitizing students from their environments. The authors discuss the development and results of implementing forced observational tasks with in-class exercises, project requirements and critique processes to heighten critical thinking in design classrooms. This paper explores innovative teaching methodologies and measurable learning outcomes that appeal to the nature and characteristics of the contemporary adult learner and the design educator. There is a general agreement that the profession of design is constantly changing. If we are preparing students for a future that we cannot define, then we should provide them with the training to look, learn, analyze, process, innovate and produce no matter what the role of a designer changes to.

Keywords: Design, Critical Thinking, Observation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.275-290. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.593MB).

Amy Johnson

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design & Foundations Program Coordinator, Department of Design, College of Arts, Media & Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Amy graduated from Iowa State University with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design in 1994 and relocated to Oklahoma City where she began work as a designer with Walker Creative, Inc. In 1997, Amy felt it was time to go to graduate school to focus on conceptualization and material usage, fabrication and the intersection of design and technology as they relate to the creation of art. In 1999 she graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a M.F.A. in Studio Arts. Amy returned to Walker Creative, Inc. in 2001 as Creative Director. Her work has been published in Communication Arts and Print. She has won two Best of Shows as well as Gold and Silver Medals and numerous Citations of Merit in Graphix competitions. Amy presently teaches graphic design at the graduate and undergraduate level at the University of Central Oklahoma. Her research interests include, creative problem-solving in design and education and visual narratives in communication.

Rukmini Ravikumar

Associate Professor, Graphic Design and Graduate Advisor, MFA program, Department of Design, College of Arts, Media and Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Rukmini (Ruki) Ravikumar was born and raised in Chennai (Madras), India. She has a Bachelor’s degree in History of Fine Art and Drawing and Painting from the University of Madras, India, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design from Iowa State University, USA. Her educational and professional experiences in India and the United States of America sparked an interest in exploring topics that relate to cross-cultural design. She has presented her research at national conferences and published her findings in international journals. At the University of Central Oklahoma she presently works as the Assistant Chair for the Department of Design, Director of the MFA in Design and Associate Professor of Graphic Design. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in design technology, design studio, typography, publication design, portfolio development, design in global cultures and design research. Her present interests include researching topics relevant to design education. She is an active member of AIGA and serves on the local board and the national design educators community steering committee.


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