Planning Curriculum in Art and Design

Planning Curriculum in Art and Design represents a new direction for art education. The most significant change suggested is in the breadth of the art and design curriculum promoted in this article. 

This article defines the subject of art and design education as the study of visual thinking--including design, visual communications, visual culture, and fine/studio art. The chart on the first page of this chapter is an attempt to show in graphic form the larger scope of potential art and design studies possible when art and design education becomes the study of visual thinking.

The second area of change is in the emphasis on explicit instruction about the design process. Students now learn specific steps in the writing and math problem-solving processes. Yet the process for creating new art or design is often demonstrated but left unexplained. This article promotes the idea that the quality of students’ work and the creativity they exhibit improves when they work through a process that they have learned and practiced.

The third area of change is in instructional method. In addition to

recommending that a more or less standardized process be used to approach each new project or study, this article promotes the concept of constructivism – the idea that real understanding is best created in the minds of students by giving each an opportunity to work and struggle with important concepts. To that end, discussions of instruction will  emphasize long-term projects, more hands-on learning, and more decision-making left in the hands of students. Finally, many changes have occurred in the area of assessment in recent years. 

This article will promote the use of rubrics created with student input. These rubrics, created early in the design process, can be used for both formative assessment (done during the design process) and summative assessment (occurring when students’ work is complete).

The first assumption is that the essential skills of production are

best learned within the context of student projects – at the time

when students need them to continue the design process. Student

motivation is improved by the immediacy of their need and their

understanding of these skills by the fact that they use them soon after

they are learned.

• The second assumption is that instruction in aesthetics should be

integrated into every discussion about student work, from early

discussions about possible solutions to a problem, through formative

and summative assessments of their work. Questions that require

students to think about the impact of decisions made throughout the

design process help them understand the aesthetics in a meaningful way.

• Third, that good instruction involves children in actively

constructing understanding through work on long-term projects.

The concept of constructivism suggests that students learn best when

they have an opportunity to struggle with important concepts while

working on solutions to real-world problems.

• Fourth, that children should be involved in determining the criteria

for success of each project, and actively engaged in formative

evaluations of their work throughout the design process. Rubrics

created with student input allow them to better assess their progress

while working on a project and more consistently reach their goal for a

successful final product.

Brief discussions about these concepts follow, and more in-depth explanations occur in later chapters on instruction and assessment.

The complexities of modern life argue for more creative approaches to

problem solving in all areas of endeavor. While the basic human need for two- and three-dimensional fine art has in no way diminished in the 21st century, other areas of design have gained in importance. New, more elegant design of common objects is now an essential part of commerc . 

Further, as communication has become increasingly dependent on visual media, a greater understanding of how design affects visual communication has become more important. And, it has never been clearer that a high level of creativity will be required in order to make a difference with complicated issues such as improving public health, distributing food more efficiently, improving urban housing, and rebuilding national infrastructure.