Contemporary Issues in Design Education Friday, June 8th, 2018

Making assumptions: Pedagogy, practice, and the portfolio

Peter Lusch, Professor of Practice, Graphic Design, Lehigh University
Liese Zahabi, Assistant Professor of Interaction/Graphic Design, University of Maryland, College Park

Making design portfolios is approached from industrial-age view. We reveal and interrogate changes in design to fill gaps in preparing students for practice.

At a time when undergraduate design programs pivot towards educating the designer of 2025, we hypothesize that the current pedagogical approach to making design portfolios is a remnant from design’s industrial age. Traditionally focused on the presentation of designed artifacts, we wonder if instead the portfolio should have a broader emphasis on collaboration, strategy, and design thinking. Is the portfolio the most important indicator of qualifying a design candidate? Or, are practicing designers looking at other aspects as they make hires? Despite the great deal of literature produced about educating future design practitioners, we cannot identify consensus about how the increasing specialization of design has impacted the traditional design portfolio.

In this short paper presentation, we will introduce our partnered research inquiry aimed to study the usefulness of the undergraduate portfolio. We will share qualitative findings from our initial data-set collected from interviews with design educators and practitioners, while welcoming viewpoints from others at the MAKE conference. The aim is to be inclusive in our gathering of perspectives from different types of designers and design programs, set in different regions across the country, in order to reveal and interrogate the changing nature of design. We hope to identify viewpoints between pedagogy and practice in order to fill gaps in the literature about preparation of students for professional practice. This research is vital to our field as a new generation of design educators takes the lead in teaching future designers how to navigate the increasing complexity of the design landscape.