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Teaching Portfolio

Teaching Philosophy Statement

            I believe that through design education, an individual gains a feeling of satisfaction and pride brought by the creative act. Within an educational setting, students need continuous encouragement to brainstorm concepts for design and build the necessary skills required to visualize ideas. As a teacher, it is my duty to ensure that learning takes place in an open, trusted, and creative environment, so that students not only learn design practice but feel encouraged to share their experiences and points of view safely.

            As a teacher, I attempt to enable students to perceive design elements in life and make more creative designs using independent, divergent thinking. The content of my teaching is based on the "pop thinking" design philosophy. Because people are heavily focused on their smart phones, the interaction design and graphic design of both operating systems and apps are updated to suit people's habits of use and cultural shifts. It's a credit to the designer; it's a job that requires agility, flexibility, excellent observation skills and the delivery of targeted solutions. For students, I encourage them to experiment and not be afraid to make mistakes. If the task is difficult, students have the ability to simplify the complex into doable steps to solve the problem.

            I use a variety of teaching methods. In the class, I use simple techniques to teach students to understand an important element of graphic design: figures. For example, in one project, I chose to use the graphics that are often present in daily life -- the emoji, used in digital chats. I prepared two tasks for the students and the first involved asking them to use (or merge) two or three existing emoji to create one new emoji with a new meaning. They were then asked to choose a base emoji for the person next to them and work together to create a new sticker. I used these examples because emoticons are familiar and relevant to students, which makes it easier for them to understand the design implications of emoticons.
Student assessment, understanding and grading, are a different set of complex issues to address as a teacher. This is because some students are talented and have tons of quirky and funky ideas, but many students are “normal people” and they need to work much harder on brainstorming than “interesting people”–they come up with one cute idea ten times in practice. While grading definitely relies on the final result of the assignment, the improvements made in brainstorming are also an important grading element. It does not matter how talented the student is. Independently pushing himself to reach the next level is the most important grading element in this class. 

            The primary problem students encounter within design is hitting a plateau, thinking their design is boring and losing passion for design. My strategy is point out the areas where the work succeeds and encourage them to develop a design practice. With experience, a student will have the energy to keep working. My message is don’t give up. For example, in a 20-minute teaching presentation, where I gave the students an in-class assignment based on emoji designs, some students did a great job and willingly shared with others. For some student who do “normal work”, they were able to recognize the value of others’ work. Other students disengaged and did not share their work. As an intervention, I asked the quieter students to describe their work and point out one highlight. I gave positive feedback to reinforce their actions and reengage them. Then I asked them to try another emoji design exercise, and they always did a much better job. Timely encouraging feedback that engages students is a top priority for me in teaching.

            Using student evaluations is a great way to improve my teaching. There is difference between being a “nice” teacher and a “helpful” teacher, and it is difficult to find the balance. Less experienced teachers are often stricter, and they want to teach more to their students. Their goal here is to have their students perform at the same level of ability they have. But generally, students are all good and have a willingness to learn new knowledge. However, the fact is they prefer to learn with simple, clear direction and guidance. My goal is to cultivate this clarity of communication alongside my passion for design. I want to provide the help that fosters their individual skills as well as their perception of design elements in the “real” world - creating intelligent designers with independent, divergent thinking.

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