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Developing a pedagogical model to enhance and assess creativity in Omani graphic design education

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posted on 2013-06-03, 11:20 authored by Salman Alhajri
This research investigates the position of creativity within graphic design education in general, and within the Omani educational context specifically. It situates itself among three realms: education, design, and creativity, investigating the relationships, effectiveness, and interrogations among these three topics. Creativity is defined within this research and in relation to graphic design education as problem solving , which is explained also as a cultural activity, or a cultural production. Graphic designers can involve themselves effectively in solving communication, social, and cultural problems that are classified as wicked problems , which usually require creative solutions. It is argued that Omani graphic designers should be creative problem solvers and able to find effective solutions for these problems. Yet this is not the case in Oman, at least from an educational point of view. The research problem is that the Omani design education system lacks a framework that recognises creativity as an important concept in education. Such a lack creates a twofold problem: 1) underestimating the importance of creativity in Omani design education; and 2) a shortage of pedagogical structured programmes that can enhance students creativity. It is argued that this problem is a result of the neglected situation of creativity in Arabic traditional education in general. Traditional education usually does not support creative thinking in design students, which consequently minimises their roles in social and cultural change. Based on the above, this research aims to develop a pedagogical model that can enhance and promote creative potential within Omani graphic design students. This aim can be achieved through re-establishing the position of creativity within Omani design education and valuing creativity as integrated part of graphic design. It proposes that the pedagogical model can offer a systematic approach for lecturers, to guide them into the best practice to enhance the creative potential of their students. Therefore, this research, and the proposed model, is the first step towards improving the position of creativity in Omani design educational systems in general. The model would propose to help Omani graphic design students to develop their creative problem solving abilities, which can allow them to effectively find solutions for several social and cultural wicked problems faced in Oman, such as the increased rate of car accidents nationally). The model will contain some creative-thinking techniques, and some pedagogical strategies that are already used internationally in education to improve creativity. The relevant literature has been reviewed to study the techniques and strategies used internationally to improve the creative potential of graphic design students. A qualitative interpretative methodology was used to answer the research questions and fulfil the aims. A survey approach was used for this research, implementing two methods: questionnaires and interviews. The online questionnaire was conducted with 33 international participants. It investigated how creativity is defined within graphic design contexts; whether creativity can be taught or enhanced; if yes, How, and by which techniques and strategies? Which curriculum contents are most suitable and effective? And how to assess creativity within graphic design education?. The same set of questions was asked in face-to-face interviews conducted with 39 design lecturers. The participants in these interviews were local lecturers who teach graphic design courses at six Omani institutions. All of the collected data were analysed by a thematic analysis method, by coding and categorising them according to different themes that had been extracted earlier from the literature. The contribution of this research is in defining the concept of creativity through scientific research; more specifically by practical research conducting an international survey and local interviews. Through this approach, this research has collected ideas, insights and trends about creativity in graphic design and how it can be developed. Also, this research has advanced knowledge of the relationships among graphic design, creativity, and education, specifically in the Arabic region. It is an attempt to emphasise this new field. Moreover, this research has given a snapshot of differing views regarding creativity in design education as perceived by international lecturers versus Omani lecturers, through conducting a cross-cultural study by asking these two groups the same questions, which was an interesting comparison. Finally, the collected data were utilised to develop the proposed pedagogical model designed for graphic design lecturers who teach design courses within Omani design education. The pedagogical model is the main contribution of this research. It would be suggested to the Omani Ministry of Higher Education that the model should be part of the Omani undergraduate graphic design curriculum.





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© Salman Alhajri

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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