Teaching Experience

Teaching Philosophy
Teaching first-year graphic design is both rewarding and challenging. Most beginning-design students are new to the university experience—they struggle with living away from home, being alone, as well as the work load and expectations of a university education. As an instructor specializing in first-year studio pedagogy I see how the difficulties of students outside of the classroom need the same attention and consideration as the difficulties inside the classroom—their diverse learning styles, their needs for accommodation, and their mental and physical health—when developing curriculum. Thus my teaching philosophy is rooted in the student experience. Methods and techniques are gleaned from Experiential Learning Theory, Transformative Learning Theory, and Writing in the Disciplines Theory, as these are theories for adult learning and provide ways to assist students who are new to university and the demands of a creative education.

Experiential Learning (learning through doing): I believe in an active and collaborative studio environment and have seen the positive results because of it. Thus participation is a key component of studio experience. I require students to turn away from their computer screens in favor of engagement with one another to address specific design questions. This helps first-year students develop relationships with their peers and creates an active and exciting classroom environment. For example, one exercise has students working in groups to build their roughs by cutting paper and sculpting their ideas in-stead of the usual pencil sketch or computer roughs. This type of exercise enables physical movement, discussion, and interaction between students and exposes them to the methods and strategies of their colleagues and, most importantly, provides an essential liberation from habitual practices to promote new perspectives (see photographs on page 1).

The instruction of technique is essential in an arts institute. Demonstrations of best practices, both analogue and digital, happen regularly in my studio classes. However, these demonstrations do not go beyond the craft of making in order to avoid advocating for a specific aesthetic or style. My goal is to facilitate students in finding their own unique voice. Thus my first-year classes focus on process (experience) and not product. One assignment I give students has a starting point, it has students working in unpredictable ways, it oscillates between 2D and 3D explorations, and it has no pre-determined end product. This project moves away from what it is and what it looks like to what can be done. In other words; empirical research. This directly challenges the notion that design is problem solving. Process-driven projects are challenging for students as there is a lot of uncertainty because the outcome is not defined and students are unable to fall back on habits and familiar techniques. Therefore, I find tools that will help students navigate this unease such as scaffolded assignments, in-class writing exercises that help students define their intent or analyze their progress work, and by supplying regular and timely feedback through rigorous critiques and targeted, transparent rubrics (see page 2).
Transformative Learning (experiences that inspire change in viewpoint): Experiential learning can lead to transformative learning with the proper guidance and practice. I believe that transformative learning experiences can contribute to the making of an autonomous designer in that it has the potential for the altering of self, including revisions of belief systems and behavioural changes (Meziorw) that are relevant for first-year learners. By encouraging students to recognize, access, and question their personal frames of references they can better understand, accept, or work through their biases and assumptions and hopefully become cognizant of their intuitive responses and tacit knowledge. However, it is rare for transformative learning experiences to occur in first year as they require a student to change their worldview, their perspectives, and behaviours. Mezirow ex-plains personal frames of reference as being structures of assumptions through which we understand our experiences. He goes on to explain that “We have a strong tendency to reject ideas that fail to fit our preconceptions, labeling those ideas as unworthy of consideration” (Mezirow, 5). Transformative learning encourages critical reflection in order to surpass these reactions of rejection and to bring into question our habits of mind and points of view.

Transformative learning focuses on adult learners, as adults have accumulated experiences, which have formed associations, concepts, values, feelings and conditioned responses (mental or behavioural) that frame their world view. I strongly believe that the transformation of a person’s beliefs and behaviours is one of the most important aspects of a university education. All students should constantly question what they think they know and recognize that the world is pluralistic. Transformative learning enables students to be critically, socially, and politically engaged. I believe that by encouraging transformative learning experiences I am setting the stage for action and change within each individual student.

Writing in the Disciplines (writing to learn): My teaching experience has shown that first-year design students, including both native English speakers as well as English language learners, lack the knowledge and understanding of basic discipline-specific terminology and require analytical abilities to write critically about their explorative and iterative processes. I believe the use of studio-based writing exercises can progress students from surface-level engagement to meaningful levels of criticality not only with disciplinary terminology but also with their own processes and outcomes. An example of an in-class writing exercise that I give students is that of peer-to-peer critique sheets which have students answer several questions about the work of a peer that are targeted to the learning objectives of that stage of the project. Students are asked to analyze and comment on their peers’ work, which gives them time to formulate their thoughts before entering into an oral critique. I also give students reflective writing exercises where they are answering questions during the re-search/making/process stages of their projects. The questions are composed in such a way that students must articulate their decisions and actions as well as analyze what is working and what is not working based off of in-class feedback and personal critique.  

My teaching philosophy is rooted in Experiential Learning, Transformative Learning and Writing in the Disciplines theories, and fully embodies a fluidity that captures feedback from my students and my peers. My pedagogical practice is to reflect upon my teaching and classes daily. Assignments shift and evolve as I work with students in order to maintain a challenging and positive studio experience. I work collaboratively with my colleagues, the Faculty and Curriculum Development Centre, and the Writing and Learning Centre to update, revise, and evolve assignments and exercises to provide the necessary supports for studenst of all learning levels as well as English language learners. To me pedagogy is a method of facilitation rather than instruction in order to build safe spaces for students to develop their own unique creative voices; share their individual creative processes; reflect on actions, decisions, biases, and assumptions; and learn through and with their peers.

Reference: Mezirow, Jack. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory and practice. New directions for adult and continuing education (Jossey-Bass), 74, 5–12.

Teaching Experience

2015 Communication: Surface, Object, Space

  • this course introduces students to the development of three-dimensional form 
  • students explore materials and their structural principles through analogue and digital methods
  • students will begin to locate relationships between the form that they construct, it's location in space, their concept, and the meaning found in materials and processes.   
  • in class exercises have students working on techniques on constructing form in three-dimensions using various materials 
  • students will work towards understanding how their three-dimensional forms can live within both two- and three-dimensional spaces and environments. 
2014 Experimental Typography at York University, second year
  • Students are encouraged to experiment with various aspects of letterform development and how materials and form can help communicate a concept
  • Students also learn to see typographic fowm as a narrative in itself
  • this was part of my experience as a Design Masters student thus the course and all the assignments prepared by Professor Paul Sych

2014 Colour In Context at OCADU, first year

  • online hybrid course where lectures are given online and studio occurs in the classroom
  • responsible for studio component where students explore colour shifts depending on context both physically and psychologically
  • in class exercises have students mixing colour both digitally and anologue to to explore and build an understanding of visual perception and how media affects colour. 

2006/present Communication Design 1 & 2 at OCADU, first year

  • an introduction of tools, techniques, decision, vocabulary and criticality
  • this course emphasizes an iterative process of design in both two-, three- and four-dimensions 
  • students engage with various media and both digital and analogue methods
  • students are exposed to both historica and contemporary designers
  • in class exercises engage students in explorations of different working processes and practices

2012/present Typography 1 at OCADU, first year

  • students are exposed to both historic and contemporary type designers
  • exploration of the history and relevance of typography and typefaces including type setting, anatomy, structure, vocabulary, placement, proportion, relationships and form
  • in class exercises address the nuance of typographic form and typesetting

2006/present Drawing Translations at OCADU, first and second year 

  • this course explores drawing as not only image making but also as a way to translate, deconstruct, recompose, as well as a way to develop ideas as part of the design process — to help them visualize and conceptualize
  • students learn to use their drawing skills to observe detail, understand perspective and to translate and investigate their immediate environment
  • development of in class drawing exercises that explore, blind, contour, cross-contour, silhouettes, anatomy and icon/symbol development

2006/2007 Research Methodologies, third year.

  • teaching various research methods including pure and applied approaches
  • research is conducted on theoretical as well as professional levels
  • students engage with each other and society/community to understand their accountability and responsibility as design practitioners.

2007/2009 Visual Forces at OCADU, first year.

  • hired to create an intensive 6 hour studio course in which 2D and 3D designers teach colour theory and the elements and principles of design across all dimensions
  • creation of a balanced introduction to design practice demonstrating how the principles and theories of colour and design are interconnected across a wide variety of applications
  • expose students at entry level to greater opportunities within their field of study

2003 Art Director's Workshop at OCADU, fourth year.

  • hired as a guest instructor to conduct a 6 week course that focused on branding and identity work
  • designed a workshop to prepare graduating students for professional practice

Service at OCAD University

  • curriculum committee
  • course lead for Communication Design 1 and 2
  • course lead for Communication: Surface, Object, Space
  • 2014/present – OCAD University has begun a WAC program in which writing will be introduced therough Writing In The Disciplines (WID) beginning in the fall of 2015. I am a WAC Fellow representing the design department in developing this initiative. 


  • 2014 York University: Master of Design
  • 2004 Ontario College of Art and Design University: Bachelor of Design ~ Graduated with honors
  • 1998 Ontario College of Art and Design: Diploma ~ Graduated with honors


  • 2016 Inspired Teaching Award – Excellence in Teaching First Year ~ through OCAD U
  • 2015 Inspired Teaching Award – Leadership to Advance Teaching – For demonstrating passion and commitment to student learning that inspires others towards excellence in art and design education
    ~ through OCAD U
  • 2013 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s ~ through SSHRC
  • 2013 FGS Tuition Fee Bursary-Domestic ~ through York University
  • 2012 York Graduate Scholarship ~ through York University
  • 1998 Packaging Association of Canada Award ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design
  • 1997 Charles William Mitchell Tuition Award ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design
  • 1996 Dr. Eugene A. Pogetto Scholarship ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design 

2007 – 2011 
Portfolio Workshops ~ for OCADU
Created a full day workshop for students wishing entrance to a post-secondary visual arts institution. I developed a series of design exercises for students in order for them to prepare for their portfolio interview for college admission. The workshop included studio-based creative and conceptual thinking.

Portfolio Admissions Interviewer ~ for OCADU
Interviewing students and assessed their work for acceptance into OCADU.

National Portfolio Day ~ representing OCADU.
Reviewing, assessing and offering suggestions on the portfolios of students who intend on applying to an art institute.


  • Registered Graphic Designers ~ Ontario Chapter — Member of the Design Educators Committee
  • AIGA
  • Craft ​Ontario