Perceptions of visual communication design education in higher education in Ireland: A multi-case study from the design industry, institutes and graduates perspectives
Citation:DOWLING, FIONA, Perceptions of visual communication design education in higher education in Ireland: A multi-case study from the design industry, institutes and graduates perspectives, Trinity College Dublin.School of Education.EDUCATION, 2018
F. Dowling P.hD Thesis Volumn 1 (*).pdf (Pre-print (author's copy) - Non-Peer Reviewed) 8.418Mb
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“Use your own vision and mentality in order to form design decisions + Don’t believe your professor” Annelys de Vet – (Kiosoglou & Frank, Ed. 2013., p 34). The aim of the study was to evaluate and construct an explanation behind the currency that higher education degrees in design enjoy in Ireland. The Visual Communication (VC) design discipline at Bachelors (BA) level accounted for the greatest cohort of students leaving design HE in Ireland in the 1990s. This graphic design (GD/VC) domain, together with related programmes in design in digital media still account for the largest numbers of students in design at Higher Education (HE) in Ireland. The Opportunities in Design; Strategies for Growth in the Irish Design Sector report (1999, p.p.5.1.c-d) by PricewaterhouseCoopers/Bradley McGurk and more recently Harvey’s Irish Design Footprint: Economic Value and Characteristics report for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI, 2016 pp. vi-vii), outline the strategic economic value that design provides for the Irish economy from the VC and creative digital media domain. This study has adopted the VC discipline to explore the design HE experience from the perspective of graduates of one undergraduate (UG) VC programme. It considers their early design career and the transition that they make from leaving their UG HE to the design industry and, in some cases, to their decision to return to take up Masters and PhD level programmes. The emphasis of the research study has been from the graduates’ perspective. The academics and industry are referenced in two ways: the first by way of context setting, and the second providing a critical commentary on design education from their perspectives. The objective was to define the effect of these programmes on the students’ ‘creative’ experience and how relevant it was when applied to the design industry. There has been little research carried out on the Irish design postgraduate (PG), VC and creative digital design programmes and the design graduates’ early socialisation. This dissertation, therefore, is important as it considers the iv Irish graphic design (GD/VC) industry, the Higher Education Institute (HEI) and the design graduate, i.e., the three stakeholders, from a number of perspectives. The research questions are: 1. What type of employment does the graduate designer secure after undertaking an MA or PhD?; 2. What is the current employment status for graduates from xsUG and PG degrees in terms of, for example gender roles, work conditions, salary etc.?; 3. What is the relationship between the different stakeholders, and 4. Which of the stakeholders, e.g., HEI design, design industry or graduate designer benefits the most from an MA or PhD? The methodology employed three case studies, which represented the three different stakeholders. This qualitative approach involved 20 semi-structured interviews with graduates. All of these had attended the same VC, UG four year programme and had graduated over a five year period between 2009-2014. The HEI site choosen for the study, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), did not have a PG design programme pathway in place to evaluate. Hence, the cohort of graduates provided the insight into the Irish design student HE as they attended PG design programmes at Levels 9 and 10 in other Irish design HEIs, before they continued their progression into the workforce. Some 20 semi-structured case study interviews with design academics, and 20 semi-structured case study interviews with industry practitioners completed the sample for the research study. The 60 semi-structured interviews were conducted with the three stakeholders from 2014-2015. The study therefore had a solid representation of participants in relevant categories that had validity and reliability for the research findings. Secondary issues such as: i) HEI and industry jointly provided assessment, and ii) graduates’ continuing professional development (CDP) demands have been referenced. Learning attributes for design inclusive of digital, blended learning, placements/internships have been identified from the research findings for curriculum inclusion and development. In conclusion, the research has highlighted the main characteristics and distinctive qualities of the individual stakeholders and their inter-relationships. It has been possible to construct a v profile of the Irish post UG student now armed with their VC design qualification, and to track their early progression into the design industry. The rationale for these qualified designers to further pursue PG degrees and how these enhance their opportunities and creative prospects, has been commented on from the three stakeholders’ positions. The domain is in constant flux, with change in ‘trends and technology’ dictating a tension between the design industry and the HE education provision. The ‘catch-up’ situation in digital input has put pressure on training at HE causing it to be fluid in order to be in keeping with the design industry. The research study is timely as HE in all domains is in a process of transition in Ireland, with HE policy documentation (Hunt et al, 2011) and the proposed Technological University Bill (2015) indicating future mergers for some HEIs, together with a more central role for the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The position therefore, that design VC at present holds would suggest that there is a ‘gap’ between the stakeholders that requires more accountability, communication and transparency. The State intervention to support design practice with incentives like the ‘2015 Year of Design’, has been prompted by economic considerations for trade and the growing social media and interactive platforms, i.e., user experience (UX) and design thinking. The personal financing for PG curriculum has suggested a slowdown in “take-up” by graduates until they consider their options in the workplace before committing to further degrees later in their careers. The question of how appropriate these design PG degrees are for the future graduates of tomorrow is dependent in the short term on the desirability of design graduates seeking creative, digital up-skilling and long-term graduates seeking marketing/ communication knowledge which will further their career longevity and leadership roles.
Author: DOWLING, FIONA
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Education. Discipline of Education
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available
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