Know all your students well!

July 21, 2010

On our first day we take head-shots of the student’s and have them fill out a questionnaire about themselves. I read the questionnaires and memorize each name with a face. During the second class I usually stand at the front of the class looking directly at each one of them so they can read my lips as I say their name.

They are no longer anonymous, I know their name before they can remember mine. It is a lot of work for me but they immediately realize that if I do extra-ordinary work to learn all of their names in a week, I then expect them to work hard too. Simple gestures like this are very powerful. They never forget it, the program bond starts there.

The entire faculty must review your student’s work often, by that I mean the end of every semester. We even review our sophomores at mid-term. The review sheets rate them on design skills, conceptual skills and along with and more importantly, their attitude. This document is for the student’s eyes only, not to be sent home or to the department and furthermore, it’s not a grade. It is an instrument to show the student where they are successful and where their problem areas lie so that they can accurately address them.

Even more importantly, it also allows the entire faculty to instantly see:
How the individual student is doing in the major
How the class is doing as a whole.
How the faculty are doing.

Their last review is the week before graduation when the faculty take all their finished portfolios to the Syracuse University Townhouse in New York City. We invite over 2000 design professionals and Syracuse alumni to “review” the portfolios and leave feedback for our graduates. We then place that feedback directly into their portfolio on graduation weekend. They are off the bus running! Some are working by Monday, most within the month.

(This is an excerpt from the paper presented at the 2010 UCDA Education Summit at Lawrence KS by William Padgett)


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