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Management Leading Programs page 8

 
 

Course Scheduling (continued)
Most private institutions do not repeat courses each semester. Practically every state school repeats introductory level courses each term. This practice is inefficient, costly and creates additional problems for students in sequencing their classes. Graphic Design teachers should insist on restricting entry level classes to Fall semester only. This permits new courses without additional funds, space or staff.

Restricting entry to Fall semester encourages students to stay in sequence because to drop out for a semester means that they have to wait an entire year to get back into sequence. The result is that students tend to stay together as a group throughout the program. My experience has been that students moving through the program as a group are more secure, productive, competitive and the learning environment is vastly improved. Students that stay together know each other and the interaction leads to more learning from one another.

A very few Graphic Design programs in both public and private institutions accept majors in the first year. Because first year foundations programs are so weak at most institutions, Graphic Design must teach foundations within their own program reducing the number of professional courses that can be taught within the time frame between entry and graduation. Taking students in the first year provides Graphic Design students a much improved educational opportunity to prepare for a career within the four years. Teaching Graphic Design basic courses in the first year allows faculty to establish discipline, pertinent content, build good work habits and reinforce student commitment. Under the present practice of requiring a first year general foundations, Graphic Design faculty usually have to devote time to helping students unlearn bad habits and values; and reshaping student attitudes during the first year of the Graphic Design program.

The best institutional scheduling that I encountered was at the Kansas City Art Institute. All studio courses throughout the school were scheduled from 8 11 AM and 2 5 PM. All academics were taught five days a week between 11 AM and 2 PM. On Thursdays, all students left their department to take a one day elective course. I found this scheduling to work extremely well.

 

Student Grading
Perhaps the most difficult and demanding procedure in the program was student grading, which was done by review. At the end of each semester we held individual student reviews with the entire faculty present. Each student was given a space to exhibit their work and fifteen to thirty minutes to discuss it with faculty members. At the conclusion of the review, the student received their grade.

If students felt the grade unfair, faculty went over the work piece by piece and explained the basis for the grade. Time was also spent counseling students and making suggestions on how work or work habits could be improved. Without a doubt, the review process for establishing grades was extremely fair and beneficial for students. (The review process is described in detail in Students and Teachers: Attitudes, Evaluation and Records.)

 

Use of Space and Technical Facilities
Having sufficient dedicated space and how it is used is germane to an effective Graphic Design educational program. Problems connected with the amount of space dedicated to Graphic Design are most common to state university programs which have a liberal arts focus. Within the liberal arts context, most instructional space is multipurpose shared by several disciplines. Rarely are students in these institutions provided with dedicated work space. In my experience, it is essential that Seniors have a workstation that is accessible to them twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. There are considerable advantages if Juniors can have the same arrangement. Fixed space is not that important for Sophomores.

There are tangible benefits if the space allocated to Graphic Design is contiguous. The principal advantage is that students at one level can see and learn from what students at other levels are doing.

Especially so in state universities, not only is most space multipurpose, but it is scattered around campus which tends to destroy unity of the Graphic Design educational program. Additionally, the quality of available space is frequently inferior as universities are prone to assign space to art programs that no other departments will use. Art Departments are often the last occupants of buildings before they are condemned or torn down.

At most large universities, students often feel like transients as the classes are scattered over a large area in many different buildings with unfamiliar classmates in most courses outside of Graphic Design. Dedicated space and fixed workstations create a home base which give students a feeling of security and belonging. As such, students tend to be more comfortable and productive. How much space and how it is used impacts strongly on the quality of student educational experience.

My experience with fixed workspace clearly reveals that it has much to do with student work habits. Students with dedicated work space devote much greater time to class work than those without. Additionally, the educational experience is enhanced by the interaction of students using a dedicated space. It is also necessary that students have access on an extended basis to technical workshops essential to meeting course requirements. Somewhat related to this is the need for a place to keep the various tools and materials required for classes. A locker is not comparable to a fixed workstation in this respect.

When we had extensive photo and printing facilities, our experience was that if students maintained the facilities rather than janitors, we had better working conditions and less theft. At both Minneapolis and Kansas City, when it was clear that faculty members were leaving, thefts increased dramatically. This included large equipment. At Minneapolis someone stole an enlarger and at Kansas City it was dry mount press, lenses, etc.

We cleaned our technical workshops twice a week; once by Sophomores and Juniors and the other by Seniors. Students divided into those who emptied trash, those who checked and oiled equipment and those who scrubbed the floors. It worked very well.

Ever since the 1950s when Graphic Design was identified as something more than illustration and advertising, there have been requirements related to technical workshops. Graphic Design at all types of educational institutions have experienced difficulties being funded adequately in respect to equipment, maintenance and updating of technical facilities or operating supplies. Again, the problems have been greater at state universities and other schools with a liberal arts focus. The tendency at these institutions has been to provide only centralized technical facilities. It is absolutely essential that Graphic Design have some dedicated technical facilities restricted to the sole use of Graphic Design students. Having central labs is helpful for periods of heavy use such as the end of semesters or problem deadlines, but by itself, central labs are unsatisfactory. Central labs serving a variety of disciplines must compromise in terms of what equipment and how it is used. Each discipline has specialized requirements. This factor is even more important today with the use of computers in design.


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