Evaluating differences between programs and students, I saw
my goal as retaining Basel standards and objectives, but tailoring
problems and evaluation of work for conditions in American
programs. Students here are more responsive to verbal instruction.
It seemed to me that Basel instructors made limited use of
terminology, and it would be necessary to establish terms
and criteria appropriate for American students. Articulating
criteria helps students critically analyze their work, relying
less on intuition and more on rational evaluation. If critical
examination can be verbalized and incorporated into the thinking
process, it is more consistently applied and students work
at a higher level. If students learn how to evaluate their
own work, it becomes possible for them to learn more within
the shorter period of time allotted to their major. Most importantly,
students have the tools to continue professional growth after
leaving school, and especially that pertaining to theoretical
or basic design. A glossary of relevant terms for each exercise
should be handed out at the time the exercise is presented.
Students should be encouraged to use the terms when discussing
there are advantages to using terminology and stating criteria,
there are pitfalls to excessive reliance on them. It can lead
to design formulas, rigidity, stagnation, narrowness or mediocrity.
If abstract visual qualities could be verbalized, art and
design education would be quite different. Understanding of
visual properties cannot be verbally communicated to students.
Students acquire understanding through experience, with the
process being guided by teachers who understand process and
with students depends on telling them enough to progress,
but not so much that they only follow directions. If it was
apparent that students were too dependent, I would tell them
to work on it some more, and then come back. I might circle
an area of the work and say, ÒA problem exists within these
boundaries,Ó and send them back to their desk to see if they
could identify it and make adjustments. Also it worked quite
well to ask students to tell me where they thought the weaknesses
were before giving them my input. Many times, students could
recognize shortcomings in their work, and they merely needed
encouragement to proceed on their own. Occasionally, there
was merit if I demonstrated changes; while explaining and
showing students how it improved the work. The use of terminology,
establishing criteria and giving meaningful criticism of student
work requires teachers to develop good judgment and considerable
communication skill. Teachers have to find their own personal
teaching style, which includes learning how to successfully
communicate criticism of abstract imagery.
frequently used analogies to comment on visual properties,
and he was very good at it. He had an uncanny knack for critiquing
visual problems by addressing totally different subjects,
yet, his point was clearly communicated to students through
think it is extremely important that teachers also be constantly
learning. Problems given to students should be equally as
challenging to teachers. The worst possible situation is when
teachers repeat the same problems so often that all their
responses and evaluations become automatic. Albers noted that
when students can anticipate an instructor, the effectiveness
of the teacher is lost. To keep students attentive, teachers
must avoid routine, and consciously do and say the unexpected.
achieve my goals, it was essential for me to formulate problems
around learning objectives. It was necessary to devise terms
and criteria that would lead to the desired level of student
performance. I found the approach was practical at all levels
of study. However, it was crucial to the introductory courses.
Each problem presented to students incorporated objectives,
process, terminology, limitations, and criteria; these were
the basis for instructional criticism and evaluation of student
Objectives are defined by the learning goals set
for students. However, objectives can be set at more than
one level. Some are specific and others are implied. For example,
student objectives are specifically stated within the problem.
Students should always be told at the beginning of each problem
exactly what the educational goals are, and what criteria
will be applied to grading their work. The teacher can have
general objectives related to formal values, process or craft.
Student learning should be the first concern of teachers,
and all other objectives are aimed at achieving that end.
level of objectives is individual student career objectives.
Teachers tend to underestimate the importance of student objectives
and it might surprise them to find student objectives as mundane
as "to get a degree," "to make a lot of money,"
"to make good grades," "to get a job downtown,"
etc. Rarely are students goals related to excellence or learning.
Students'objectives are frequently determined by teachers,
and this is why it is so important for educational programs
to be aimed at the highest levels of the profession.
models are an important part of student commitment. Role models
might be historical or contemporary, but either provides direction,
standards and career choices. Teachers should know that students
without career goals or role models are seldom committed,
and therefore are usually less productive and seldom achieve
their potential within the profession.
consists of the sequential steps between receiving the problem
and its completion. Depending on the problem, it entails analysis
or research, exploration, roughs, testing, criticism, refinements,
completion and presentation. Criteria are connected to each
step of the process. Terminology is descriptive language used
to communicate with students. Understanding design semantics
is essential to criticism as it is necessary to verbalizing
criteria. It is also an introduction for students to professional
are specified in the problem definition. These relate to size,
materials, media, tools, color, elements or other restrictions.
Adhering to limitations is basic to all design solutions in
or out of school.