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DAY 3: reflecting on reflective practice

March 19, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

Today’s 500 words of written brilliance (ha) are around an article I read this morning while working out. (Yes…I’m on Day 3 of a workout-and-read-academic-articles kick and it’s pretty amazing. Sitting and reading feels almost like torture unless it’s accompanied by whiskey and it’s in the evening but manically moving with the aid of a machine and reading…best thing ever. Go figure.)

The article is by co-authored one of my new friends, Karel van der Waarde, and is called Communication design education: could nine reflections be sufficient?

The authors were inspired by Donald Schon (who you may remember from blogs such as this one, and his book Educating the Reflective Practitioner) and use many of his ideas as they tackle what they see as a new way to go about tackling the changes that must take place in design education to prepare students for their new roles in the design world. The authors tackled the problem by filtering their work through two phases. Phase one was intensive interviews and observations of designer to try and distill commonalities in the field thus establishing some sort of baseline to which students could aspire. Notable outcomes of this phase include the idea that designers undertake three main activities which are: considering visual elements, considering visual strategies, and considering the dialogue between the commissioner and the beholder. Designers to all three activities throughout the process of design thus the successful design is one who is nimble enough to navigate through all the different parts.

Second, the authors posited that “Considering a visual configuration forms the main focus and is characteristic, but this cannot be done without undertaking other activities. There are at least eight ‘reflections’ necessary to design…” Here they heavily lean into Schon’s ideas of reflective practice and create a “web of reflections” that hold together what it means to be a designer.

The authors conclude the article by directing their gaze toward education and particularly examine how the information discussed at the beginning of the article can provide a methodical basis to discuss design education. The map out what skills are appropriate to each phase of the undergraduate and graduate educational schema and also provide compelling evidence once again that research really must be a central element to the process.

Overall, it’s a great short read and I love that the diagram is so concise and logical and also makes a lot of sense in a connectivist/complexity paradigm manner. I think I can use this web of reflections as a way to ground my own research into how these things happen in the CMC interface of the virtual studio…maybe even filter my own research through this web and see how it does or does not hold up. I would be curious how the authors see these different points showing themselves within the curriculum at large or even the smaller studio. I’d also be curious as to how working educators would react to this document, particularly working educators who are in my position serving high risk populations and working in technical/career college. Does this hold up? Does it have the ability to scale to embrace all formats in which design is taught? Or even, should it scale?

Interesting stuff indeed. I’d say my first foray into design research is a good one and can’t wait until tomorrow’s mind and body training session!

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