This thesis puts forward a sociocultural approach to the learning of visual practices for designers and suggests communication tools to help educators and students to engage with practice. It is concerned with the question of how designers’ visual practices are developed and fostered. From prior research in this area it was assumed that designers learn through a linguistic visual literacy approach or, at best, through a critique-based process. However, this study found that learning happens through social interactions and dialogues, which enables reflection on visual practices, informing future visual inquiry. It was found, through the provision of communication tools that externalise visual practices, that students develop into active learners, who can take greater control over their learning. Therefore, the presentation of a sociocultural approach explicitly develops knowledge of visual development, but also offers a more effective learning theory upon which to ground visual pedagogy in design. The study employed a qualitative approach and a strategy of design-based research to externalise the underlying attributes and processes of developing and fostering visual practices through the designing, and testing, of teaching-learning artefacts. This strategy led to the employment of two research phases: design experiments with design students and user testing with design educators. A review of the literature relating to a sociocultural approach led to a design framework (a sociocultural approach, shared understanding, reflective articulation, and critical questioning of visual practices) that informed both the designing and testing during both phases of the research. The design framework was adopted to analyse and code the data gained in two stages: descriptive and pattern coding. Through the discourse of the identified patterns, theoretical descriptions of developmental learning attributes and processes of fostering designers’ visual practices were formed. These descriptions were then interpreted and contextualised in design education, to present a sociocultural approach and characteristics (a shared understanding of, constructive reflection on, and critical evaluation of, visual practices), in the process outlining theoretical and practical knowledge of developing and fostering designers’ visual practices. Through the presentation of this knowledge, this study outlines opportunities to develop new directions in design education; moving from a critique-based process guided by design educators fostering individual development, to a general dialogue facilitated in collaboration with the learning community.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 4 Nov 2010|