How do arts-based writing endeavors catalyze generative thinking and support research development in design students’ thesis endeavors? This paper offers reflections from an industrial design masters student, a graphic design masters student, and their arts education professor in a School of Design at a Research I institution. Informed by theoretical and historical contexts of the design discipline and perspectives from composition studies and fine arts practice, we explore the potential of arts-based writing as an evocative, speculative tool and a distinctive form of reflective practice for the development of graduate design research. We suggest that arts-based writing’s iterative process, dialogic engagement, and speculative approach to knowledge-construction provide critical, reflective structures for working through uncertainties and thus are uniquely responsive to the evolving epistemologies of the transdisciplinary university. Three focal questions guide this reflection: What is arts-based writing? What role does arts-based writing play in students’ design research endeavors? How can arts-based writing practices support the growth of speculative and pragmatic design research?
IASDR 2017 Guest Speaker
Meredith Davis has taught for forty-seven years and served as head of the Department of Graphic Design, Director of Graduate Programs in Graphic Design, and Director of the PhD Design program at NC State University. She is an AIGA fellow and national medalist, Alexander Quarles Holladay Medalist for Teaching Excellence, and fellow and former member of the accreditation commission of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, for which she drafted the national standards for the evaluation of college-level design programs. She serves as a member of the education advisory committee of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum and is a former president of the American Center for Design. Meredith is a frequent author–including four books on design and design education– and serves on the editorial boards of She Ji and Design Issues. Her research includes a two-year study of design-based teaching and learning for the National Endowment for the Arts, which received a CHOICE award from the National Association of College and Research Libraries.
She has served on the development teams for two National Assessments of Educational Progress, most recently for the scenario-based evaluation of 21,500 students in Technology and Engineering Design Literacy. She authored a five-year research study of teaching critical and creative thinking across the college curriculum, featured in a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on the effectiveness of higher education in preparing students for innovation jobs. She has reviewed proposals for the Smithsonian Office of Education and Museum Studies, National Science Foundation, US Department of Education, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and her work has been funded by the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Science and Technology; National Endowment for the Arts; Worldesign Foundation; and several state commissions.