Date of Award

1-24-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jay Start, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christine Wilson Kesner, Ph.D.

Abstract

The transition from an academic atmosphere to the professional world is an important step in a college student's life. The use of traditional teaching methods has been the subject of ongoing research into how well they prepare students for this transition. The evolution of technology and the state of the nation's economy continually require entry-level employees to display broader skill sets. Competencies such as critical thinking, creativity, and technical accuracy are three off the primary attributes of a well-prepared college student transitioning into a creative or design industry. Within traditional teaching methodologies, technical accuracy has been the primary outcome of the learning environment. These traditional methods often fall short in preparing students for other the necessary competencies. This study explores the application of two teaching methodologies - behaviorist and constructivist - and their effects on accuracy, retention, and behavior among college students in an interior design studio classroom setting. Two separate groups of participants engaged in a learning experience that followed either a behaviorist methodology or a constructivist methodology. Participants learned software and completed an electronic drawing that was assessed for accuracy and creative embellishment by the researcher. Additionally, participants submitted surveys after each learning session that described their experience from the perspectives of learner confidence, value of learned skills, and difficulty of the learning session. Finally, learner behavior was analyzed through visual observations made by trained individuals during the learning sessions. Data showed a clear difference in many of the assessed categories between the methodologies applied. While accuracy levels were high in both approaches, in most other categories, students participating in the constructivist-based groups exhibited higher scores. It is recommended that creative studio classes implement a hybrid approach that utilizes facets of both behaviorist and constructivist methodologies, and also that further research be conducted with larger groups of learners with a wider array of prior academic performance levels. Findings were encouraging in support of an academic goal to better preparing students for a professional transition.

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