Scaffolding Undergraduate Creative Experiential Learning: Effective Practices and Lessons Learned from the First-year Design Studio.


Students in first-year undergraduate graphic design courses, generally, are unfamiliar with how to work as a designer. My interest in this paper is to examine how the use of scaffolded assignments that incorporate Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) theory helped students adapt to new ways of learning and making. An important issue that this research raises is that creative processes are not chronological—they vary depending on the assignment and the individual student. This creates a variety of challenges that need to be addressed in advance of or during an assignment that is scaffolded. My central question focusing this research is: Can creative design processes, so unique to individuals, be scaffolded and if so how? To address this question, I have created a framework—based on scaffolding studies including Puntambekar and Hübscher, Tharp and Gallimore, and Bruner—in order to analyze and assess the scaffolding used and the work done by students in first-year studio courses. The results of this study show that students demonstrated better time management, focus, engagement in risk-taking, recognition of design processes, self-reflection, and critical thinking skills through the use of scaffolding techniques. This research contributes to the growing field of art and design pedagogy for undergraduates.