Graphic Design Students' Development of Adaptive Expertise in Ideation Strategies

Shih-Ping Kuo, Purdue University


This exploratory study uses the convergent design of mixed methods to integrate adaptive expertise theory to study how individual student participant from graphic design or non-graphic-design majors to solve a novel ideation problem in graphic design. Adaptive expertise includes six dimensions: metacognition, flexibility, dynamic knowledge, ability to welcome challenges, efficiency and deep understanding of the domain knowledge, and multiple perspectives. Those are desired qualities for a learner to stand out in the global market that are constantly changing with complex challenges. Thirty undergraduate students participated in this study. This study aims to answer four questions: types of graphic design tool and strategies selection and reasoning, similarities and differences among four participant groups, influences of participants’ performance from the prior-experiences, and other potential preconceptions and situations to their reasoning. Four results are identified. Frist, 11 rationales contributed to participants to make their tool usage decision and strategies. Second, participant with more varieties of prior experiences in graphic design would potentially have significantly higher confidence level in their adaptive expertise. Third, participants who performed better in this study, obtained more thorough reflection in design thinking. This result shows that this task requires domain-dependent expertise. Forth, participants’ performance found affected by several non-cognitive preconceptions such as uncertain challenges, adapting in the new work space, and stress management. Future studies need to increase the number of participants to potentially increase statistical significance of the results, and to identify the relationship among factors that affect participants’ performance and exhibition of adaptive expertise. Implications of this study suggests the need to expose learners to diverse types of graphic design experiences and novel tasks/contexts.




Richardson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Art education|Design|Educational technology

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