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Instructional Design & Support

Cary Staples

Cary Staples, Professor of Graphic Design, wanted a new way to engage her ArtDesign 150 (The Idea of Design) students.  As someone who values learning through practical experience herself, she knew the “skill and drill” method just wasn’t going to cut it for her students. Instead, Staples created a learning experience based on a gaming environment, which provided analysis and reflection components that modeled successful design practice.

Changes to the class included a newly-designed syllabus, assignment rubrics, and evaluation forms, as well as the involvement of two graduate student assistants in the class.  Staples drew her inspiration for the bigger changes from an unexpected source: video games. “Gamification” is a method of course design that uses not actual video games but the dynamics of gaming.  Players–her students–benefit from a gaming environment not only because they think like scientists and are encouraged to take greater risks, but they can also customize their experiences.

Using interactive experiences for her students, including mind maps, scavenger hunts, and posters without words, Staples was able to successfully engage her students and allow them to experience problem identification, observation, analysis, and even failure.  Assignments were both individual and collaborative, and included research and application. Students were regularly given feedback on their projects, in addition to the time they spent in class working in groups or with the graduate assistants.  Reflecting on the changes in the class, Staples notes, “Students became comfortable with the idea that there was not one right answer and that their concerns and ideas could direct their research.”  Results of her project are included in her online visual report at:

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