The Cartography of Theory and Practice

University of New South Wales
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, 2007, pp. 1 - 6
Issue Date:
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Strickler argues that the growth of visual communication as an academic discipline can only occur if there is an âempirical bridge between theory and practiceâ (1999: 38). Such a bridge is also a precondition for the evolution of visual communication as a forward looking and reflective industry as opposed to one that simply responds to the dictates of the market. However, building this bridge is no easy task; visually articulate and practically oriented students are reluctant to engage with theories that may challenge their passionately held understandings of design. All the more so when the commonest mode such inquiry is conducted through is reading and writing. The challenges and problems of writing for visual thinkers has been well articulated by Grow (1994). That such students are resistant to forms that they are generally not well equipped for or confident in is hardly surprising. Couple this with a seemingly near universal questioning of the relevance of theory by aspiring practitioners and it would seem the odds are stacked against such an enterprise. In this paper we will reflect upon efforts to build this bridge through design theory curriculum using visual mapping tools drawn from constructivist education theory. The efficacy of these efforts is explored through both quantitative and qualitative student feedback.
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