I am now in the second semester of teaching a senior research project course. The first semester consisted of students identifying a research question and thesis, and then putting together a fully developed and referenced research paper. In the past, the second semester was devoted to putting together presentations on the same topic. I've been encouraged to modify this sequence as I see fit this year.
If there's one thing I want students to care about in terms of the presentations, it's that awareness of design principles can help their ideas come across clearly. As a result, I've pieced together some activities that center on learning design principles as a way to communicate meaning.
I started this semester's first class with an exercise from p. 47 of the Design Basics Index. Here's the basic idea:
Draw ten circles of the same size and uniform color on your paper in an arrangement that shows each of the following words:
I then collected their drawings using my submitMe application so that we could see them all together.
The results were really fun to look at and discuss. Here's a selection:
One really nice result was that students pointed out the commonalities between some of the drawings and discussed them without my bringing it up. When does unity cause intimidation? When does unity cause isolation?
This was a blast. Definitely a good way to start a lot of conversation without needing to say too much.