About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2123-2130
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain

‘MULTIPLICATION IS VEXATION, / DIVISION IS AS BAD; / THE RULE OF THREE DOTH PUZZLE ME, / AND PRACTICE DRIVES ME MAD.’ (TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYME) GETTING ART AND DESIGN STUDENTS TO WRITE BY STEALTH

S. Bell

Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
How can we stop some student reflective essay writing becoming a laborious, descriptive, chronological route-march through events, without critical insight or applicable awareness?

In my experience, many UK university art and design students tend to agonise about the writing of traditional, reflective essays at the expense of productive analysis of the studio practice which should be the driver of the writing in the first place. My research indicates that this may be because they have residual respect for essays even if they dislike writing them. The tail is wagging the dog.

This paper discusses an essay project in which my graphic design undergraduates were asked to produce a manifesto to summarise their emerging studio practice. The manifesto could only have three words and one image, and had to fit an equilateral triangle template. Students had to think about dividing their practice into three - and, if this were not possible or desirable, could the words (even the relative size of the words, perhaps) minimise readers’ reductive assumptions? How could three words do justice to their practice? They had to consider consistency and tone of voice - much more prominent given the focus on the words; they had to consider which word should come first; should a word come first? If so, how might that be shown? Should the words stand alone, or be read in sequence…in one direction only, or might content be enhanced (or diluted) via multiple readings? Should the image explain the words, or draw them together, or act as a fourth word, or as some sort of determinative, perhaps a determinative which could have a different agency with different words? How might image orientation affect meaning? Could the image reduce the significance of the three words, perhaps introducing some welcome ambiguity or double meaning? Most of these considerations were either new to students or had unfamiliar emphasis.

There were many gratifyingly thoughtful and imaginative manifestos produced, and interesting vocabulary and word / image combinations. The best students analysed their studio practice well at the outset and understood it better at the end. The essay had clearly worked - most likely because the students didn’t realise they’d written one.
@InProceedings{BELL2014MUL,
author = {Bell, S.},
title = {‘MULTIPLICATION IS VEXATION, / DIVISION IS AS BAD; / THE RULE OF THREE DOTH PUZZLE ME, / AND PRACTICE DRIVES ME MAD.’ (TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYME) GETTING ART AND DESIGN STUDENTS TO WRITE BY STEALTH},
series = {7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-2484-0},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {17-19 November, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {2123-2130}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Bell
TI - ‘MULTIPLICATION IS VEXATION, / DIVISION IS AS BAD; / THE RULE OF THREE DOTH PUZZLE ME, / AND PRACTICE DRIVES ME MAD.’ (TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYME) GETTING ART AND DESIGN STUDENTS TO WRITE BY STEALTH
SN - 978-84-617-2484-0/2340-1095
PY - 2014
Y1 - 17-19 November, 2014
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2014 Proceedings
SP - 2123
EP - 2130
ER -
S. Bell (2014) ‘MULTIPLICATION IS VEXATION, / DIVISION IS AS BAD; / THE RULE OF THREE DOTH PUZZLE ME, / AND PRACTICE DRIVES ME MAD.’ (TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYME) GETTING ART AND DESIGN STUDENTS TO WRITE BY STEALTH, ICERI2014 Proceedings, pp. 2123-2130.
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