See, Think, Learn, Change, Do: A Project Approach to Moving from Design Education to Design Thinking

By Amy Johnson and Rukmini Ravikumar.

Published by The Design Collection

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

Steve Jobs has said, “Design is the fundamental soul of a man made creation.” (Peters) This view of design, combined with the general agreement that the profession of design is constantly changing (Heller, 1998) means we, as design educators, are preparing students for a future that we cannot define. To create design professionals who will thrive in this evolving profession we must go beyond how we were taught. It is not enough to educate students on the use of the design elements and principles; we must teach them to observe and analyze the visual qualities of environments, think with elasticity, learn to innovate, cause change and practice with an unflinchingly passionate work ethic. But how to do this with a cohort of students who have been taught to the test, who worry about making A’s and finding the right answer? We design; we create projects that systematically utilize observation, random input, metaphorical thinking, hands-on experiences, and conceptual innovation to create, not just designers, but design thinkers. This paper will describe and demonstrate a hierarchical project approach of systematically moving students of graphic design from static participants to dynamic practitioners of design thinking through upper level coursework in a four-year undergraduate program in graphic design.

Keywords: Teaching Techniques, Creative Problem-solving, Experiential Learning, Observation, Metaphorical Exercises, Design Thinking, Project Approach

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.231-252. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.295MB).

Amy Johnson

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design, Department of Design, College of Fine Art & Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Prof. Johnson 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 1999 she graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a M.F.A. in Studio Arts. She returned to Walker Creative, Inc. in 2001 as Creative Director. Her work has been published in Communication Arts and Print. Prof. Johnson presently teaches graphic design at the graduate and undergraduate level at the University of Central Oklahoma where she also serves as the Assistant Chair of the Department of Design. 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

Prof. 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. She has worked as a Graphic Designer in India and the United States of America. Her research interests include cross-cultural design, graphic design technology and design education. Prof. Ravikumar is presently the Chair of the Department of Design and the Graduate Advisor for the MFA program at the University of Central Oklahoma, USA. She teaches classes in new media design technology and design research.


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