How might the education of communication design students in the UK be fit for purpose?
With a focus on communication design education in the UK, this thesis intends to answer the question of how and what can be done to better prepare students for professional practice amidst paradigm shifts in general and higher education. This research will be of interest primarily to communication designers in education, and creative industry policy stakeholders. I intend to produce an original contribution to knowledge for action whereby developing practice-relevant theoretical and practical knowledge can influence these current paradigm shifts. I argue, through my hypothesis, that undergraduate communication design courses can not be expected to meet the changes of professional design practices to a reasonable threshold due to a fundamental lack of understanding of what communication design education should be doing at policy and industry levels. Underpinning this hypothesis are 3 suppositions: firstly, I argue that there should be a refreshment of how year 1 course material is delivered to fit the trend in declining aptitude from students entering Higher education via A level Art and Design, and to an extend foundation courses; secondly, that in order to prepare for emerging trends in professional practice, students should be grounded in the principles of graphic design gestalt, irrespective of influences from technological advancements and the current misnomer of design thinking. And finally, that there needs to be more tactical partnerships with industry. My literature review reveals insights into these areas using a selection of theoretical, research, practice and policy texts. I have interviewed 3 undergraduate communication design course leaders who represent Higher Education Institutions with a gold award Teaching Excellence Framework ranking. I have used Grounded Theory Methodology based on Cathy Charmaz and Tony Bryant’s methods, to code, memo, and analyze the research findings to position my generalizable theoretical statements and contextual analysis. In conclusion, this thesis reflects on the research process and presents recommendations for further action based on the claims to new knowledge gained into this subject.
Communication design, education, graphic design theory