Confessions of Novice Designers and Their Instructor

Main Article Content

Tonia A. Dousay
Jennifer LaVanchy
Trina Kilty
Dillon Stone


These three condensed design cases provide a glimpse of the decisions undertaken by novice designers in a graduate-level message design course. The course helps students examine the role of communication theory, cognitive psychology, cultural influence, and design skills within the context of instructional messages both in theory and through practical application. Practical application in the course includes smaller design projects to gain experience with best practices and recommendations, and the course culminates with a service learning project that pairs students with a community partner. The community partner provides basic specifications for a specific need, and the students then design artifacts to meet these requirements. The assignment is evaluated based of how well students followed client specifications, design considerations for each medium, content and grammar mechanics, copyright guidelines, and general design principles. However, the students also compete in the sense that the client selects which artifacts to implement from among those submitted. Embedded within each design case are instructor reflection comments that address particular or repetitive themes that emerged from each designer. Combined, these cases help identify course design weaknesses and bring clarity to concerns regarding how to help novice designers progress in competency.

Article Details

How to Cite
Dousay, T., LaVanchy, J., Kilty, T., & Stone, D. (2017). Confessions of Novice Designers and Their Instructor. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 8(2).
Author Biographies

Tonia A. Dousay, University of Idaho

Tonia A. Dousay is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Idaho.

Jennifer LaVanchy, University of Wyoming

Jennifer LaVanchy is a doctoral student in Learning, Design, & Technology at the University of Wyoming.

Trina Kilty, University of Wyoming

Trina Kilty is a doctoral student in Learning, Design, & Technology at the University of Wyoming.

Dillon Stone, University of Wyoming

Dillon Stone is an Instructional Designer at Creighton University and graduate of the Instructional Technology master’s program at the University of Wyoming.