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AIGA Design Educators Community Faculty Research Grant

Understanding Best Practices in Student-Operated, Faculty-Advised Campus Design Studios

I received a 2016-17 AIGA Design Educators Community Faculty Research Grant to research the successful practices of student-operated graphic design studios housed on college campuses. It is fairly common practice to operate student-run, faculty-advised graphic design studios on campus that serve both internal and external clients. Specifically, I am interested in studios in which students practice design for “real” clients while obtaining college credit. There appears to be strong interest in the philosophy, approach, and logistics of these studios; however, there is a lack of scholarly research in their pedagogy, operations, and assessment. The actual practices of these studios vary widely in relation to pedagogical philosophy, curriculum connection, faculty involvement, student autonomy, client selection, client interaction, institutional support, and facilities.

Through this inquiry and analysis of current campus design studio practices, my goal is to create a suggested framework for learning outcomes and assessment. Currently in process, this project will be a rigorous, multi-method combination of qualitative and quantitative data gathering and analysis that includes scholarly research, surveys, interviews, site visits, and observations. This research will be disseminated through conference presentations, a journal article, book (in collaboration with Meaghan Dee, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech University), and website that outlines best practices for these types of student-operated design studios.