The graphic design project: employing structured and critical reflection to guide student learning
This study investigated a structured and critical approach to reflective practice, and how this can support graphic design students in a project-based learning environment to learn from their projects. Graphic design education has traditionally adopted a project-based learning approach where students are introduced to the principles of design through a series of projects. While there are many advantages to project-based learning, research suggests that in this environment, learning can become overly bound to the project with the risk that students have difficulty identifying and articulating what they have learned. Reflection offers a means to support students to connect their learning through a more deliberate engagement with the design process and the learning opportunities this presents. A learning intervention in the form of a structured and critical approach to reflective practice was designed, framed by theories of reflective practice and cognitive psychology. The aim was to prompt students to reflect on their project in ways that supported them to identify their learning and challenge their approach(es) to the project. A case study strategy of inquiry was employed, drawing on a mixed-method research approach. The findings from this study demonstrate that when supported by a structured and critical approach to reflective practice, students reflected in a critical manner and consistent with the principles of reflection-on-action. Whilst in this study not all students critically reflected, nor did students critically reflect all the time, it is concluded that reflective practice applied in a structured and critical manner can play an effective role to guide graphic design students to learn from their project. This article presents a detailed description of the research method and the structured critical reflective practice (SCRP) developed for the study. A summary of the overall findings are presented.