As a dedicated educator, I believe that students’ accomplishments are connected to my success. In order to bring about successful teaching and learning outcomes in design education, both teacher and learner need to interact with accurate assessments and feedback. I strongly agree that students in higher education are adult learners and instructions should address pedagogy based on the critical thinking process approaching professionalism during their academic years. This pedagogical initiative is very important to the design disciplines and my teaching philosophy has focused on three criteria in commitment and engagement; 1) dealing with instruction balance between pedagogy and andragogy in terms of courses, levels and environment, 2) critical thinking process in concept development and problem-solving, 3) professionalism in design competencies.
1) Pedagogy vs. Andragogy
Pedagogy describes a traditional approach of teaching based on teacher-directed learning theory, but ‘andragogy’ is based upon self-directed learning theories (Knowles, 1970). Design disciplines require various learning tasks through different problem-solving processes. Both students and educators need to know one’s strength and weakness in the learning process. Understanding objectives when learning design is essential for students. Educators need to perceive individual students’ ability and capability in their learning. According to this matter from my teaching experiences, I have developed learning assessment based on design pedagogy. Depending on how students engage with interactive communication with other students and/or instructor for improving their own problem by himself/herself, I have observed that learners need precise instruction, in which the delivery meets the needs of the students and should be distinguished from pedagogical and andragogical direction. Educators are concerned that most students are more concerned with their GPA than the learning process. However, I am philosophically convinced that students need to be andragogically directed gradually as they transition into upper division levels. Design as visual communication often deals with visual aesthetics and functions, so that it could be subjective and objective in terms of different perspectives. Therefore, I am convinced that students need to know both aspects of successful and unsuccessful cases in the learning process. Well-balanced implementation of teaching tools between pedagogy and andragogy brings tangible results for successful teaching and learning outcomes.
2) Critical thinking process
Successful design always shows great in-depth research and process. I am convinced that in-depth visual and written research are the most important components to enhance critical thinking ability for students. Design education is a part of creative activity, but it often brings attention to educators being aware of limited concept and idea on design achievement from students’ works. In general, designers demonstrate their knowledge and experiences as part of the technical skill set in creativity, but they always struggle with the visual concept and idea as the best quality of uniqueness and clarity. This phenomenon is very common in the classroom as well as students being pushed by instructor. Also, design theory and methodology are essential to develop visual concepts and ideas. I consistently demonstrate my teaching for students to fully accommodate these criteria in creativity. The methods in concept development and problem-solving are crucially logical and the profound ideas approaching the best satisfaction for the audience to understand visual concepts and ideas as interactive communication. This adoption in the learning process also supports the design ability to deal with any problem solving in a variety of subject matters.
Professionalism is comprised of time management, craftsmanship and responsibility in professional design workplaces. Graphic design disciplines are expected to deliver the professional qualifications for students to complete all academic experiences, therefore I believe that preparation of professional business tasks are important for students in design education. Designers are responsible in all aspects of commercial design to integrate with business strategies and marketing values. As business trust and engagement on the professional levels, the final product of design outcomes should be the best quality in presentation regardless of the lack of time given to complete tasks. Students should execute their creative works for audiences successfully and they need to consider that design activity is very practical, logical and professional for their future career.
During my past 10 years teaching and developing curriculum in the graphic design program at University of Nevada Las Vegas, I have demonstrated students’ accomplishments based on pedagogy of educational circumstances such as assessment, interactive instructions, teaching and learning effectiveness, design competencies, etc. My enhanced scholastic research and creativity has addressed the importance of education and disciplines of graphic design and I continue my sincere respect for my students and other educators.