Pre-service education of the Australian Visual Communication Design teacher: Perceptions and practices of teacher educators
AuthorRickards, Emmalie Kate
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-12-22. This item is currently available to University of Melbourne staff and students only, login required.
© 2019 Emmalie Kate Rickards
Each year in the Australian state of Victoria, approximately 12,000 senior secondary school students enrol in the subject of Visual Communication Design, its curriculum unique to Victorian schools and liberating design from its popular pairings with Visual Arts or Technology studies. However, as a learning area offered under the umbrella of The Arts, Visual Communication Design is predominantly delivered by Visual Arts specialists, who may or may not have been exposed to understandings of design in their previous studies or teacher training. In fact, only one Victorian tertiary institution specifically prepares teachers of Visual Communication Design, with all others embedding design pedagogical training alongside Visual Arts in pre-service teacher education programs. Of interest then, is the nature and extent of Victorian design teacher training when merged with art teacher education, and most significantly, the role of the teacher educator in shaping conceptions of best practice design pedagogy. This thesis, therefore, investigates how teacher educators’ perceptions of design, design pedagogy and the subject of Visual Communication Design have shaped Visual Arts and Design teacher education programs, and the extent to which teacher candidates are prepared for the enactment of Visual Communication Design curriculum. As a qualitative, cross-case analysis, it examines the lived experiences and personal ideologies of three teacher educators working in Victorian institutions, their insights gathered during hour-long semi-structured interviews, and illuminating the teacher educator’s significant influence on the nature of pre-service design teacher training. Despite sharing an appreciation for design as a distinct formal language, each of the teacher educators interviewed for this study reject the notion of explicitly cultivating design pedagogical content knowledge amongst teacher candidates, choosing instead to facilitate student-led inquiry into perceived areas of need, and nurture general teaching attributes of benefit across Arts domains. Their stories also reveal multifarious understandings of design and Visual Communication Design curriculum, problematic assumptions of subject content knowledge pre-existing amongst student cohorts, and a tendency to downplay rather than deconstruct art and design’s distinct methodologies. In response, I argue that limited exposure to design pedagogical content knowledge in Visual Arts and Design teacher education compromises teacher candidates’ capacity to evolve ‘classroom ready’ understandings of Visual Communication Design pedagogy and curriculum. I also call for recognition in teacher education of art and design’s discrete methodologies, for debate about both their fusion and division in secondary education, and for teacher educators to model informed notions of design and design pedagogy whilst building a culture of practice for future teachers of Visual Communication Design. This study draws from ideas of effective design instruction in higher education, cognitive apprenticeship theory, Shulman’s concepts of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and signature pedagogies, Dewey’s laboratory model of teacher training and Schon’s theory of reflective practice. The adoption of complexity theory as its framework acknowledges not only the dynamic conditions that govern how and what teacher educators teach, but also the complexity characterising design’s exchange with art both in and beyond Victorian teacher education.
KeywordsVisual Arts and Design; Art and Design education; Design education; Secondary education; Visual Communication Design; Design based learning
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