About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2499-2506
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain

OBSERVATION, REFLECTION, AND SYNTHESIS: PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS FOR TEACHING VISUAL MERCHANDISING ONLINE

B. Stewart1, C. Colombi2

1University of Houston (UNITED STATES)
2Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
Pedagogical decisions in education have historically blended choices of theory and practice. Through the evolution of tools of practice, new choices and solutions emerge. Online educational formats are currently in the spotlight and prompt new pedagogical approaches. Former theoretical foundations find new applications in practice to maximize the opportunities afforded by online technologies. The ease in which subject matter content transitions from traditional face-2-face to online classes varies considerably. While some subjects are easily adapted, others are seemingly more problematic. The instruction of visual design, as part of a curriculum in visual merchandising for retail applications, was identified as an area requiring careful attention in the transition from classroom to online instruction.

Presented here is an instructional case report documenting the results of a ten-year cycle of design-test-redesign at a comprehensive university in the United States. Recognizing that several of the instructional strategies used to teach visual merchandising in traditional retailing classroom settings would not work online, alternative methods were sought. In particular, considering the close relationship between retailing processes and design processes in professional practice, the “epistemology of practice” (Shön, 1983) was an important point of reference to develop a viable strategy. Based on the idea that learning is most effective when the learner directly experiences the subject matter and produces mental models to represent and understand the context of study, an observation, reflection, and synthesis process emerged as an appropriate approach. Specific tools to foster this observation, reflection, and synthesis process included an interactive discussion board where students could share, compare, and reformulate their observational experiences, and topic-related assignments designed to guide students to experience examples of good visual design in their environment (observation), think about the design features and applications (reflection), and combine related and divergent observations with previous experiences to extend their learning (synthesis).

Evaluation of student achievement was based on discussion board quality, and grades on topic-related assignments and exams as indicators of clarity of concept understanding, including the ability to make accurate and comprehensive observations and then reflect on those observations in meaningful ways to enable synthesis of relevant factors. Input to evaluation and revision of the course pedagogy was provided through pre-post assessments, discussion board review, and student feedback on a Student Evaluation of Instruction instrument.

Over the ten-year history of offering and assessing this observational pedagogy, students developed design-driven knowledge and multidisciplinary competencies through observation, reflection, and synthesis that enabled them to then apply those skills in collaboration with design and merchandising professionals in retail environments.

References:
[1] Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. How Professionals Think in Action, London: Temple Smith. 374 +.
@InProceedings{STEWART2015OBS,
author = {Stewart, B. and Colombi, C.},
title = {OBSERVATION, REFLECTION, AND SYNTHESIS: PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS FOR TEACHING VISUAL MERCHANDISING ONLINE},
series = {7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN15 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-8243-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {2499-2506}}
TY - CONF
AU - B. Stewart AU - C. Colombi
TI - OBSERVATION, REFLECTION, AND SYNTHESIS: PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS FOR TEACHING VISUAL MERCHANDISING ONLINE
SN - 978-84-606-8243-1/2340-1117
PY - 2015
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2015
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN15 Proceedings
SP - 2499
EP - 2506
ER -
B. Stewart, C. Colombi (2015) OBSERVATION, REFLECTION, AND SYNTHESIS: PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS FOR TEACHING VISUAL MERCHANDISING ONLINE, EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 2499-2506.
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