Above is a color test project that I am hoping to assign as a class exercise for my design theory class. This class is really struggling. I have gone over design theory from composition, color theory, typography, to Gestalt theory to the Fibonacci sequence. We have done class exercise, projects, lectures, demos, guided practice and critiques but things have not seemed to connect with many of my students. I have one student who has a degree in graphic design and does beautiful professional quality work. The rest of the students have little to no background in the arts. This is typical of the students in the Web Design department as many of my students are coming back to school after working in business for many years. They are typically mid-career folks and are much older than the typical college student. I usually have a mixture of nature ability and a drive to succeed that comes with age and the reality of the competition/requirements of the modern workforce.
This semester I have a very small class, most of my students would fall into the typical college student age, a few are the mid-career folks but the class as a whole is younger than I have had since teaching at the community college. I have two real super stars in the class, the graphic designer and a young woman who is mid-career with a family, she works full time, takes classes, has two little girls and is on the developer track. She loves to code, she loves her military husband, her kids and she wants so badly to understand the design side. She struggles with the design side but she tries and tries again. She has resubmitted almost every project. The designer is killing it! He is on the developer track, as much of what he is doing on the design side is redundant with his graphic design degree. He is an extremely talented designer and much of what I am going over is content that is elementary to him yet he still takes the opportunity to learn and to build his portfolio. He is wonderful during lectures because he will answer questions and add his own wealth of knowledge to the lecture. I love having them both in the class.
I have another student that is fabulous, he is a quirky young man that loves computers with all his being. He is one of those kids that has been trying to manipulate the operating system and hardware of a computer since he could crawl. He also is very interested in photography. He struggles with the concepts of good design and does not understand the conceptual aspects of our work. He does not always complete all of his work but the work that he does complete shows potential and effort. He is a joy to have in class and adds a very different perspective in many of the lectures.
The rest of the class is really struggling, many of them are having a difficult time just showing up to class on critiques days. Many of them turn in work that is well below work that I have seen done on the high school level. The effort is simply not there or they just don’t get it. I am going to stay on the positive side and approach from the they don’t get it side. I am going to start teaching the class more like my high school class with a bell ringers exercise at the beginning. I am going to go back to the beginning of the semester and re-investigate the basic elements of design in a few quick bell ringer exercises.
This week I am going to be working on examples for the color bell ringer. They will create a simple design using two primitive shapes. They will create a warm tone, cool tone, analogous, complimentary, triadic or monochromatic version of the design. They will do 4 versions of the design in different color schemes to see how color changes the design conceptually and visually. I am hoping by reviewing the basic content again and investigating it on a more primal level I will prepare them a bit better. There is little I can do about their work ethic if they don’t care about their grades but I will give it the old college try as we fall into our last third of this semester.