Practical learning in the VisualDESIGNLab: Designing for clients in an undergraduate academic environment

Patricia Murphey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper is a case study on the introduction of a practicum pedagogical environment in the visual communication program at Northern Arizona University. The intention is to examine the challenges that arise when students are exposed to professional standards but are also bound to academic requirements. I will examine these challenges and the ways in which we were able to surpass them and produce success stories. I will describe the development and implementation of the VisualDESIGNLab as part of the academic curriculum of the Visual Communication program and provide an analysis of the students' learning experiences and outcomes. One of the main aspects taken into consideration for this study, is the students' exposure to a workplace where they create professional relationships with clients, adhere to real professional practices, deliverables, budgets, deadlines, guidelines and restrictions. The VisualDESIGNLab is a space where the students relate their gained theoretical knowledge to the practical realm and can truly understand design processes and methodologies. Another important aspect of this paper is the analysis the role of the professor, creative director and mentor, and how this role shifts as needed throughout the semester and how it contributes to the students' practical experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Collaborative Environment
  • Design Education
  • Design Practice
  • Design Studio
  • Practical Learning
  • Practical Pedagogy
  • Undergraduate Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


Dive into the research topics of 'Practical learning in the VisualDESIGNLab: Designing for clients in an undergraduate academic environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this