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1. Using concepts, principles and theory from educational literature introduced in the Required Readings list possibly extended by your own reading, write a paper which describes your teaching philosophy
Life-long learning qualities are built through active learning experiences that encourage reflective self-direction, problem solving, critical thinking and ethical approaches have been the general principles of my teaching philosophy. Until now I have not specifically studied education theory but I find my approach to be aligned with the Seven Principles for good Practice in Undergraduate Education proposed by Chickering and Gamson as my general goals with designing my unit outlines;
1. Encourages student-faculty contact
2. Encourages co-operation among students
3. Encourages active learning
4. Gives prompt feedback
5. Emphasizes time on task
6. Communicates high expectations
7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
(Chickering and Gamson, 1987)
Biggs 3P Learning System Model starts with Presage where I consider student factors such as prior knowledge, ability and motivation and the teaching context and institutional proceedures. At Graphic Design can be taken as a four unit minor, as well as an elective with no pre-requisites for students across the wider university. In coming to understand my students needs I have identified my units primarily attract students from the School of the Arts as well as students studying business, marketing or law et al who are motivated to compliment and extend their skill sets and wanting to engage their creativity as they ready themselves for a competitive job marketplace.
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As a teacher I share my appreciation and enthusiasm for teaching Graphic Design as a versatile subject for study as it develops both practical and knowledge-based skills that can be applied by all of us in our own disciplines to create and identify the many elements that produce effective and memorable visual communication. I chose to show current design examples that encourage discussion of social catholic thought, ethical values and include diverse perspectives. I do this by creating learning situations that use constructive alignment where learners ‘use their own activity to construct their knowledge or outcome’ (Biggs and Tang). I am encouraged to learn the methods that structure deep learning situations engage students in different modes of motivation as suggested by Biggs and Tang. For students seeking vocational qualifications to work in graphic design the single minor option offered by would challenge most eligibility criteria for specialised employment in this field. I turn this aspect into a positive through simultaneously addressing each of Bloom et al’s Taxonomy hierarchy where knowledge and comprehension learning take place when engaging with the application and analysis learning activities that include peer and self-evaluation. This leads to the students graphic design assessment outcome as a synthesis of the design process steps activating creative and critical thinking deeply connected to the outcome of innovative design assessment projects.
Art and Design has its own long standing theories on the ways a practitioner structures the creation and production process. Commonly known as The Design Process described through a series of steps; 1. defining the problem to be solved, 2. collecting information and research, 3. brainstorming and analysing findings, 4. developing solutions, 5. gathering feedback on solutions, 6. creating a prototype, 7. gathering feedback on the prototype, 8. improving prototype based on feedback, 9. prototype is produced in a final form. This discipline specific process has similarities with a constructive learning approach as defined by Biggs and Tang and others as a process continuously building conceptual schemas through actions aligned to assessment tasks that apply prior knowledge and experience from inside and outside the classroom. Biggs and Collis SOLO taxonomy also closely replicates how I introduce and progress the steps within assessment projects to build analytical and design research skills and design knowledge..
Biggs 3P Learning System Model moves onto Process and Product when learning focused activities take place that are contextually aligned with intended learning outcomes to define, explain, solve, analyse, design and justify. Bloom et al’s Taxonomy categorises these stages as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and shows how each category can be assessed through a sample behaviours produced through assessment tasks. The following is an example of how I create and embed a design project to address Blooms categories address adult learning through creating contexts and situations and address my most important student issue – motivation: Design for Publication is a unit where the class together produces a design magazine (i) design, organise, manage and produce a printed magazine where each student contributes a chapter and gets to keep a copy of for their professional portfolios, identify design issues and themes for the magazine to address (extrinsic motivation) (ii) as a class students then determine the roles and their responsibilities to collectively achieve this aim, and then form groups each assigned to set about achieving the outcome, reporting progress back to the class in weekly production meetings (social motivation) (iii) each students chapter contribution allows individual opportunity to show design, research and chapter layout choices in the physical context of a printed magazine and be assessed on their contributions design, content, relevance, and knowledge (achievement motivation) (iv) and finally we come together to celebrate and create a launch for the magazine where we informally assess the united outcome, this is followed by students writing a self-reflection and evaluation of the process of doing, developing, organising, problem solving, and producing the magazine for assessment (intrinsic motivation).
The aim of my teaching is to create deep approaches to the subject that allow students to draw on their own personal knowledge and interests to support confidence of achieving success. Professional artists and designers have practiced the practical skills and acquired knowledge and experience of design history and processes that enable them to create objects and imagery in a variety of specialised media in a range of social and environmental contexts. My units are designed to reproduce the processes of a professional designer in a variety of ways. I teach in classroom settings that somewhat replicate professional design environments, allowing students to engage in a model of consistent practice using specialised tools in a supervised setting. I see part of my role as a teacher to be modelling best practice and I communicate my respect and commitment to the field of Art and Graphic Design and share my passion for art and design as a collaborative problem-solving process that can effect positive change. I create assessment tasks that reflect these values. I also see my role as a teacher to be a listener and a questioner who guides students to recognise and build on what they already know and understand to form motivation to continue their learning journey beyond the classroom and in their everyday lives and work. (Von Glasersfeld 1995).
Educational theories of teaching and learning with adults I have now been exposed to as a university lecturer, begins with the method proposed by Eduard C. Lindemans in The Meaning of Adult Education, that “the approach to adult education will be via the route of situations, not subjects” (Knowles 1973). As a teacher of visual art and design practice my classes are workshop based, technically focused and process driven, class activities and assessment tasks introduce concepts of design knowledge through doing. I design assessment outcomes that address real-world authentic projects that I generate through interdisciplinary collaborations with my academic colleagues and professional peers. John Biggs and Catherine Tang, call this ‘constructive alignment’ in Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does and describe this as a process that contributes towards creating a whole learning teaching system that connects the activities in the classroom, through the assessment tasks to the ACU Graduate Attributes.
For example Graduate Attribute; “demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession”. This constructive alignment also supports Knowles concept of Andragogy being that adult learners need to see the reasons specific things are being taught. I constantly challenge myself as a teacher to create new and novel class activities to approach the same skill in a variety of ways while maintaining the alignment between class activities and assessment task requirements that are embedded with the purpose of achieving graduate attributes. My teaching philosophy is responsive to a diverse student cohort as described above, and I set out to create an organised and flexible learning experience that introduces and models design skills and techniques when working towards the required goals in assessment tasks. I allow plenty of time to work and seek assistance in the class, but I also like to remind the students that the software we use as designers today in a digital world is always changing and learning to problem solve is integral. I achieve this through assessment tasks that require consistent design process practice that enables students to determine and attempt to generate design outcome solutions both individually and collaboratively.
I have been a student for most of my adult life, which has informed my very student-centred approach to how I create experiences in the classroom that align with the design of the units assessments and their evaluation. My responsibility as a teacher in the classroom is to focus on how the students are engaging in their learning and adapt classroom activities, exercises and unit outlines to clearly embed their purpose. I challenge my students to extend their thinking about their own agency and approach to design as innovators, problem solvers, ethical critical thinkers and communicators with a focus on the principle of respect for human dignity as described in Catholic social teaching ().
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