Dr Grant Ellmers (University of Wollongong)
Dr Marius Foley (RMIT University)

Ellmers, G., Foley, M. (2020) Developing expertise: benefits of generalising learning from the graphic design project. International Journal of Art & Design Education, Vol 39 (2)

The ability to transfer knowledge between design projects has been linked to developing expertise and as such, is an important skill for designers. However, externalising and analysing the knowledge from the design project in ways that support transfer can be a challenge. This paper explores how reflective practice can foster the conditions for knowledge transfer and links these outcomes with design expertise characteristics. A structured and critical approach to reflection was introduced alongside a graphic design project with the aim to foster the conditions for transfer to other projects. A case study strategy of inquiry was employed, drawing on a qualitative research approach, and framed by theories of reflective practice and cognitive psychology. The research demonstrates that graphic design students readily reach an ability to describe, analyse, and make judgments from their design experience. However, the types of reflection that supports knowledge transfer from one design experience to another – generalisation and abstraction – are not as apparent. This outcome aligns with the behaviours associated with the expertise characteristics of a novice designer.

Knowledge transfer, design expertise, reflective practice, design process, novice designer