A report from Min Yeh, Fall 2014 DSI post-graduate fellow
Fall 2014 DSI Post-graduate Fellow Min Wen Yeh spent the last several months building upon the work of her thesis project, The Bridge, which addresses design tools and methods for cross-cultural interaction and group collaboration. Her thesis project included a toolkit for students bridging highly motivated mindsets to positive cultural adaptation behaviors. During the Fellowship, Min further developed the thesis work through designing and testing educational tools in the ESLI program at UArts, and built a conceptual / behavioral / pedagogical model.
The Design for Social Impact Post-graduate Fellowship provides exceptional graduates of the program the opportunity to implement and measure the impact of their thesis work as applied within the Philadelphia community. Additionally, the Fellow will make a significant contribution to the graduate program by serving as a mentor to current students and promoting the work of the program in support of our recruitment efforts.
Min Yeh’s fellowship was generously sponsored by the Design for Social Impact MDes graduate program, the Office of the Provost, and International Student Programs at The University of the Arts.
During the first year of their studies, Babcock and Visconti explored the world of alternative learning spaces through their work with YouthBuild Charter School, a vocational charter school for high school dropouts, and the Free Library of Philadelphia teen services. They employed design research methods, such as ethnographic observation and interviewing as well as generative participatory activities, to gain a deep understanding of issues such as chronic low attendance, and how to build programming and physical spaces for young adults.
This experience naturally led them to focus their thesis work within public, secondary education. “Truss: A Partnership for Design and Education” outlines a model for partnership between university design students and public school teachers to support the implementation and sustainability of design-based learning.
It tells the story of Babcock and Visconti’s own experience working with a principal intern/American history teacher at the Franklin Learning Center, a high school in the Philadelphia public school system, where they implemented a design-based learning project to build 21st century skills in a class of junior students.
This experience provided the opportunity to outline the roles, responsibilities and relationships between the design student and public school teacher. Through this innovative model for partnership, they hope to alleviate some of the main stresses or obstacles teachers face when implementing a new way of teaching.
Babcock and Visconti will be speaking about their experience as designers in the classroom, and will be focusing their discussion on the five things they found to be most influential in shaping the roles and relationship between the university design student and the teacher. These key learnings include lesson and activity planning, direct instruction and facilitation, building creative confidence, assessment of understanding, and organizing reflection.
Their presentation will be followed by time for Q&A and discussion.
Recent MID Grads Kelly Babcock & Alex Visconti Will Present at ‘Design-Ed Future 2013’
Tags: alumni, design, design research, education, thesis
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Thursday, June 27th, 2013
The Value of Real-World Projects
Kelly Babcock, a second year student in the MiD program, writes on the importance and value of real-world projects in her graduate education experience. This post was originally posted on Kelly’s blog on October 27, 2012.
It just recently occurred to me that the majority of my higher educational training in the MiD program has involved a real-world project curriculum — and how beneficial this has been to my “employability.”
My undergraduate graphic design coursework involved an interdisciplinary studio class where we formed student teams and worked with real clients on branding-focused projects. The students were from marketing, mass communication, and graphic design, and the course lasted for one semester. We learned project management skills, had regular client meetings and presentations, and had to provide professional design deliverables by strict deadlines.
My MiD graduate coursework at the University of the Arts has a strong focus on collaborating with real clients. We take on the responsibility of identifying client partners, building the relationship, and fostering it throughout all aspects of the project — schedules, meetings, presentations, deliverables, and of course the design work involved.
This curriculum has been invaluable to me, and I can’t imagine school any other way. The thought of a “made up” client or project just seems meaningless, and I feel that higher education (and even earlier) will need to adjust to this type of real-world project curriculum if they want to best prepare their graduates for employment. There are key skills that you acquire by working in this professional manner, and the more comfortable you are with them prior to entering the workforce, the more you will stand out above others.
I have been researching this further and I am interested in understanding the ways in which others describe the outcomes and effectiveness of engaging students with real clients. One study I came across was: “Future Fit: Preparing Graduates for the World of Work,” published by the Confederation of British Industry. The study nicely outlines what employability means, and the skills that can be acquired while still in school to better prepare you for the work world.
First, they define “employability skills”:
A set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace — to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy.
Then, they outline what the skills include:
Self-management: readiness to accept responsibility, flexibility, resilience, self-starting, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve own performance based on feedback/reflective learning.
Teamworking: respecting others, co-operating, negotiating/persuading, contributing to discussions, and awareness of interdependence with others.
Business and customer awareness: basic understanding of the key drivers for business success – including the importance of innovation and taking calculated risks – and the need to provide customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty.
Problem solving: analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.
Communication and literacy: application of literacy, ability to produce clear, structured written work and oral literacy – including listening and questioning.
Application of numeracy: manipulation of numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in practical contexts (e.g. measuring, weighing, estimating and applying formulae).
Application of information technology: basic IT skills, including familiarity with word processing, spreadsheets, file management and use of internet search engines.
Underpinning all these attributes, the key foundation, must be a positive attitude: a ‘can-do’ approach, a readiness to take part and contribute, openness to new ideas and a drive to make these happen.
Frequently mentioned by both employers and universities is entrepreneurship/enterprise: broadly, an ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk-taking. An individual with these attributes can make a huge difference to any business.
I can relate to these skills, and can attest to the benefits of learning these through the real-world project curriculum I have experienced through the MiD program.
As I continue to look into university-based venture incubators and innovation centers for an independent study project this semester, I hope to incorporate these ideas about engaging students with real clients. There is just such great satisfaction when you know that the project has a greater purpose and value beyond just merely a learning exercise.