Philosophy of Teaching
The most important aspects of my teaching are problem solving and limitations.
First, students must be equipped to create and design on their own. Each student needs to know the process of how to accomplish a finished idea. My goal as an educator is to explain a concept; then show the concept with examples, and finally have the students work through the concept to completion with a project. This is the process of problem solving for design. The second aspect of my teaching is I want my students to be able to function in the professional world of design, so I teach limitations. Firstly, time limitations, projects have to be done on time, parallel with the professional world. Deadlines are important and they have to be respected and emphasized. Next, I teach project limitations. For example the students must create a logo that works as a one color piece and a four color piece. These sorts of limitations help the students to become more creative with their work and make them capable of handling and trouble shooting design problems that come up in-class and with projects. This will translate into the real world of design with clients and design firms.
The method which I teach is a hands on project based approach to learning design. I want the work to be challenging and interesting for the students so that they will learn and retain the knowledge. I feel the best way to do that is through hands on projects, interactive media, some lectures and tests. From my experience, I think students learn best when what is expected is shown to them with examples. Many design students are visual learners. I feel examples are the best way to communicate information to them. I began a concept like advertising with examples and lecture but concepts are only the first step to learning, then I have the students create. The student works through the design problem with a project. I think in order for the student to really learn, they must be able to apply the concept, whether it is branding logos or packaging the students need to work throughout the process of creating. For example, when I teach a beginning design class, Introduction to Adobe Software, I introduced Photoshop, going through the various tools and features. Then have an in-class assignment for the students to apply what has been taught. I use this structure, so I can help the students, if needed, and they can apply the concept of what was taught in the classroom. Then at the end of the introductory period, I assign a overall project that encompass all of what was learned in Photoshop. In this case, a poster project, for students to work with images and type. (Student example A). In my grading and learning assessment, for this project, I evaluate how many different tools were used and how well they were used. For example did they just use the tools? Did they apply design concepts unity, hierarchy, scale, emphasis, contrast etc. Does it just get the job done or did they do more? These evaluations will complete the process for each concept which will result in building a set of problem solving skills that each student can use for the basics of design creation and then be able to apply them to other design projects as well. In some of my more advanced classes, students re-brand a product starting with the logo then the bottle label design, then the bottle holder. Also the students have to re-brand the product with the heritage of the product in mind. Ramune soda, sometimes called marble soda here in the States, is a drink that is popular in Asia. The students are ask to re-brand it keeping it’s Japanese heritage but the product has to appeal to a US target market. This project helps the students be culturally sensitive to the world around them and solve several different aspects of design like creating a cohesive piece that encompass the logo, bottle label, and bottle holder. I have included two examples of student work. The first one, Ramune (B) shows a more modern approach to the design challenge. While I feel it is very successful as a design and would appeal to US markets. I think marble soda design (C) shows a clearer connection between the cultural heritage and an appeal to US target markets.
When I teach, I prefer to use projects that can be found in the professional world. For example, creating packaging and advertising products that would be a job project in a graphic design firm. I think this is important because this helps the students understand what will be expected of them in a real world setting. Also, this provides many portfolio opportunity so that students can have a professional looking portfolio. Lastly, when I create projects for the student to complete I want to make the projects more than one dimensional. I want the students to be working on several levels; concepts, limitations and with the unpredictably of a client. I don’t want the students to think that projects are only to accomplishing one thing. There are a lot of factors that come into play with working in a professional setting. So I want my projects to reflect that aspect. The students are not just trying to create a cool looking logo. The students have to create the logo, create the signage and create the ad campaign that goes with it. All the while, dealing with limitations. For instances a one or two color piece, along with a client that wants the impossible, whether it be time frame or adding cartoon pink pigs to the bank logo. I want the students to be able to create a cohesive branding across multiple platforms. I want my students to be able to create within limitations. I think this makes students more creative and faster designers over all. Now, this is a process and the students work their way up from small project to more and more complicated projects and expectation as the progress through the design curriculum.
In my evaluation of the students, I grade on knowledge of the concept taught and how well they applied it. My main form of evaluation is a critique. First a one on one critique would take place as the project develops. Then at the end of the project a group critique. Once the project is done, I would complete an evaluation of the project. One of my other assessments for each student to create a digital portfolio for all the projects in the class at the end of the quarter or semester. Then on the last day of class students will show their digital portfolio of the design projects completed in that class. So for example, in packaging design all the packaging design projects will be shown. With this assessment a progression is show in the complication of their work and the quality of their work. I have noticed that most students don’t think about the project after it is done. This gives students a time to reflect on the projects and be able to think about what they liked and disliked about a project and also how to improve it now that they aren’t as emotionally invested in it. For me as a teacher, I can see as a whole what they have learned in the class and what they need to work on still, by the quality and concepts they have chosen in each of their projects. Also by seeing the students projects together many students are able to see their own style and preferences in their work that they couldn’t see before. Lastly, this gives students a chance to see other students work and see design styles and compare the style to their own.
In my class room environment, I want to foster a safe and friendly place where students can learn and be challenged. I believe students need encouragement and support in the pursuit of their ideas. Also, students need direction and goals to achieve. Problem solving and limitations along with a safe environment for ideas will stretch their creativity and concepts, ultimately resulting in growth. I feel all these are needed as an educator of design for teaching students to create and be successful in the professional world.