Montclair State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 6160-6164
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Globalization has changed the circumstances of graphic design. In the past, emphasis on the techniques of visual production was adequate, but in a culturally diverse and highly interconnected world such as ours, there is doubt as to whether traditional coursework can live up to the promise of a liberal arts education; whether it is enough to inspire and sustain lifelong learning among undergraduates, and whether it can adequately address the complex needs of the society it is meant to serve. Graphic design practitioners today must be generalists who are capable of crafting and arranging information in an intelligible manner; individuals who can make sense of complexity.

Graphic design educators must put as much emphasis on expressing and enforcing the methods by which relevant visual communication is made as they do on visual styles and modalities. This paradigm shift is not easy to achieve in a sphere comprised of undergraduates who exhibit a range of literacies and whose previous learning merely highlights the vocational aspects of the field. Many high schools now offer courses in graphic design that stress production through the use of page layout and imaging software but there is little critical discussion about projects, little effort to instill the various stages of the design process in the minds of students.

Many undergraduates settle on graphic design because it is a means to a diploma and to a set of skills presumed to lead to a career. Although this parochial perspective is unsustainable, it is, unfortunately, still cultivated by educators and administrators in both public and private institutions to the detriment of learning and personal growth.

The goal of an undergraduate education in graphic design is not solely to ensure employment in the field because the state of the economy and the sheer amount of graduates from a variety of competing programs will guarantee an excess of recruits. An education in graphic design is, first and foremost, a lens through which students learn to think about, experience, and express their learning. This outlook is for the benefit of those students who will, either by choice or circumstance, abandon graphic design upon graduation. The onus falls upon educators to expand their methods of teaching by crafting graphic design projects that encourage students to collaborate and provide opportunities for them to pursue the things to which they have an affinity, projects that compel them to apply what they learn from subjects other than graphic design.

As a professor who teaches beginning and advanced typography courses in a liberal arts university, I began to wonder what else, apart from the mechanics of typesetting, typography history and its associated nomenclature, students could learn from my instruction. In this presentation, I will describe the research methods employed by my Typography II students in order to complete an intricate, collaborative project. I will also describe how the amendments I have made to my teaching have encouraged my students to adopt an interdisciplinary “research first” approach that supplies them with new knowledge, new perspectives, and gives them a greater sense of graphic design as both a humanistic undertaking and profession. I will describe the problems we encountered and the breakthroughs we achieved in terms of craft, concept development, shared effort, and the expanding role of the designer.
Graphic Design Education, Pedagogy, Design Pedagogy, Research Methods, Graphic Design Research Methods.