Abstract

The objective of this paper is to reflect on the possibilities experiential learning offers to the fuller integration of study skills into the undergraduate design curriculum. Undergraduate design courses are experiential at their core. Students are actively engaged in their own learning, constructing it for themselves (often literally). However, this practice needs to be complemented by the ability to critically reflect on these experiences, a knowledge and understanding of its context in the field, as well as the aptitude to communicate these insights. This is where contextual studies and study skills come in. By taking the natural approach of practical design teaching, could a model be developed that allows students to experience the building up of academic study skills in a similar way to how they engage with practical design skills? Two main hypotheses were made: firstly that the learning needed to be experiential and secondly that the study skills teaching needed to be embedded as much as possible into the rest of the curriculum. These were complemented by the aim to test whether at least some of this could be achieved by the integration of electronic means. During a case study at Staffordshire University a module has been developed that takes the students step-by-step through some basic processes of researching, culminating in an essay that conforms to academic conventions. Links to the different awards the students are studying are made at every opportunity, embedding the academic research into, and thereby developing, their reflective practice. In order to allow further student interaction a private wiki has been set up, where students can not only practice and test their skills, but also share their research. The testing of this model is very much a work in progress and while feedback has been positive, it also has identified a number of issues that need to be developed further.

Keywords:

Experiential Learning, Critical Reflection, Study Skills, Contextual Studies, Academic Writing, Reflective Practice

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Experiential, Embedded, Electronic - Integrating Academic Skills Into The Art And Design Curriculum

The objective of this paper is to reflect on the possibilities experiential learning offers to the fuller integration of study skills into the undergraduate design curriculum. Undergraduate design courses are experiential at their core. Students are actively engaged in their own learning, constructing it for themselves (often literally). However, this practice needs to be complemented by the ability to critically reflect on these experiences, a knowledge and understanding of its context in the field, as well as the aptitude to communicate these insights. This is where contextual studies and study skills come in. By taking the natural approach of practical design teaching, could a model be developed that allows students to experience the building up of academic study skills in a similar way to how they engage with practical design skills? Two main hypotheses were made: firstly that the learning needed to be experiential and secondly that the study skills teaching needed to be embedded as much as possible into the rest of the curriculum. These were complemented by the aim to test whether at least some of this could be achieved by the integration of electronic means. During a case study at Staffordshire University a module has been developed that takes the students step-by-step through some basic processes of researching, culminating in an essay that conforms to academic conventions. Links to the different awards the students are studying are made at every opportunity, embedding the academic research into, and thereby developing, their reflective practice. In order to allow further student interaction a private wiki has been set up, where students can not only practice and test their skills, but also share their research. The testing of this model is very much a work in progress and while feedback has been positive, it also has identified a number of issues that need to be developed further.

 

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