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Values That I Have Determined Necessary For Success in the Teaching of Art

1. There are no firm boundaries between disciplines, between practice, design and history.

2. Relevance and social applicability are crucial even in abstract exercises.

3. Critical evaluation of work should take into account a student’s effort and evolution as well as its formal and conceptual characteristics.

4. Exercises should be backed up using examples from history, fine, and practical art.

5. Understanding and utilizing are much more important than memorizing.

6. Students should feel comfortable taking risks and experimenting even if they are unsuccessful.

7. There should not be a substantially different approach to teaching art in a digital (rather than physical) realm.

The CREATE Instructional Design Model

Catalog existing knowledge and biases

In starting a new project it is important to evaluate the experience of the learners. This is done through a series of questions and simple discussions of the subject matter to be covered. It is important that some of these questions been opinion-based to allow all students to contribute even if their skill set is incomplete.

Example: In Photoshop this can cover both skills ands tasks specific to the software and skills needed by a designer in the given situation. For example, in an exercise that covers masking questions are about previous masking experience, different tools used for masking and also why one would want a non-destructive editing tool in the first place. Questions are ordered based on increasing difficulty until the skill level of the group is ascertained: What is a mask? Who has ever used a mask before? What part of the Photoshop interface controls masks? What is the difference between a quick mask and a layer mask? Who has heard the term “non-destructive editing”? Why do you think it is important to retain an unedited version of your photo? When might this come in handy?

Respond with new information in a hybrid lecture/ discussion

New information is also provided in a step by step fashion, alternating the description of a new skill with follow up questions to reinforce was has just been covered. Information should be presented as escalating challenges, starting with the baseline established in the “catalog” step. As tasks become more complex, feedback questions remain focused on the simple building blocks of those complexities. Students work along with the instructor to complete the task. While this phase is not creative in and of itself, creative examples of how the skill has been used by others is shown and the creative applications of this skill are highlighted.

Example: The masking tutorial outlines different methods of masking shapes and objects in Photoshop. Instructor and students open the same file and proceed to create a mask step by step. As the tutorial unfolds examples of how this skill is used in the design industry are presented. The theory component, that non-destructive editing is helpful when working with fickle clients is sandwiched in with the technical steps of complex masking techniques.

Employ newly acquired information in a design project

After completing the step-based project in the “respond” phase, students must rework the tasks both on their own and in relation to an original design. Students may ask process questions but must first refer to written notes and materials to see if they can figure out the answers for themselves. Creativity is emphasized in this step and supported with successful examples both of professional and student work that fit within the design constraints the students are given.

Example: Students are asked to apply masking techniques to a creative assignment. They create an exquisite corpse out of different photographs and illustrations without cutting or erasing any of the original images. In its traditional application, an exquisite corpse is a drawing created in a group, each participant drawing a section of the body without seeing the other sections. When the full composition is revealed it becomes the full corpse. In this exercise students are working individually, but their selective masking of source images retains the essence of the original idea.

Aesthetic critique

The original design is assessed for its creativity and formal composition. Formal qualities, such as color, line and balance are applied, the originality of the concept is determined and the overall visual appeal is commented on. This step can be applied to a small group peer critique or a critique with the instructor.

Example: Students evaluate each others’ illustrations in groups of three. They are given a graphic organizer to record their thoughts and opinions. This critique is shared with the student designer as an initial user assessment of their design. The response by other students is used to judge whether the concept is clearly rendered and if the design is novel and interesting.

Technical critique

The design is assessed by the instructor for both creativity and aesthetics and adherence to the skill-set taught in phase two. The instructor judges whether new skills are integrated into the design and concept of the model. This assessment incorporates elements of the “aesthetic critique” but also includes variables such as page size, color use, resolution and image selection and copyright.

Example: The exquisite corpse is critique according to an assessment rubric. This rubric allows the student to see if their design adheres to any restrictions place upon it in the design specifications, whether the skill-set being highlighted has been applied and also allows space for a written critique of the creativity and harmony of the design.

Edit the design

The student returns to the design and applies the feedback provided in the peer assessment as well as any changes brought about by discussion and experience with other design examples within the class or group. The finished design has been assessed by both peers and the instructor and the feedback will clarify for the student if their concept and execution are balanced.

Example: The student returns to the design and makes edits and changes according to feedback received in the two critique phases. The finished design is printed, mounted and presented in a professional way, usually as part of a portfolio of work with similar criteria.

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