PREPARING FOR DIPLOMA: FACILITATING AND OPTIMISING THE MENTAL JOURNEY
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Skulberg, Harald
Institution: The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Norway
In higher design education, relevant preparation for professional practice in industry is vital for coming professional designers. Today, we experience that society, market mechanisms, technological optimisation and consumer behaviour become more and more diverse and complex. At AHO, our design student’s ability to identify and flexibly grasp this complexity is challenged through the formulation of their final diploma assignment. The curriculum of our five years Master’s degree in Design culminates with a diploma assignment, which constitutes the final and 10th semester. During the 9th semester the authors provide the students with a pre-diploma course, which aims at enabling the coming diploma students to build the framework for their diploma assignment and to formulate their specific proposal. As educators, the authors acknowledge the importance of mental preparation for this final assignment, as the pre-diploma semester course is tailored to facilitate a mental journey - or generative awareness process - aiming at building the required design thinking mind-set, perspective and reflection. The authors strive for a pedagogical regime consisting of individual tutoring on a regular basis, feedback during mid-term presentations, as well as utilising competencies from external professionals and partners. By advising each student into topical adjustments, and framing and reframing the scope, the authors encourage the students to maximise the relevance of their assignment. Through a qualitative and statistical survey during the pre-diploma semester, the level of each students' consciousness, reflection and awareness of the task has been registered consistently at every milestone during the course. The intention has been to investigate how these registrations contribute in describing the mental and qualitative level of preparation of each individual student, and the course as a whole. This statistical material has provided the authors with valuable insight into how our pedagogical regime has contributed in building the imperative mental journey.