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Abstraction of the name william

Design Education

I retired in 2007 with over twenty years of teaching beginning design. My experience in this area of design education has taught me that it is both difficult and enormously rewarding. It is an area of design education that needs more enthusiastic and committed teachers.

One thing I have observed during my years of teaching is that too much of what goes on in design studios is never shared with other teachers. As a result, new teachers usually have to develop their courses in a relative vacuum and a wealth of knowledge is lost every time a teacher retires. This is one of the real tragedies of design education and a key reason that I have offered teaching workshops over the years and decided to make my syllabi and texts available on the web. The following provides a brief description of what you will find in each of the publications.


The syllabi together describe the latest version of a year long beginning design program I developed and taught in the Architecture Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo over a period of 15 years.

Although the projects may or may not be applicable to your specific program or goals, I hope that the syllabi provide a model for developing a program based on an articulated pedagogy and clear learning objectives and evaluative criteria.

Please feel free to download the syllabi for your personal reference and you have my permission to use them or anything within them that is helpful to your teaching.

Base Syllabus

The Base Syllabus is used for all three courses. It includes: a description of the pedagogical positions that underlay my approach to teaching beginning design; thoughts on teaching, learning and the design studio; a description of how the quality of studio projects is evaluated; and chapters on cooperative learning, faculty and course evaluation, metacognition, and time management.

121/122/123 Syllabi

Together, the three syllabi describe a year long series of related projects of increasing complexity. The projects were designed to address the learning objectives identified in the syllabi and each project includes the criteria by which the quality of student responses is evaluated. Given that drawing is part of the program, the syllabi also describe a year long sequence of drawing projects. The syllabi include examples of student work for many of the projects.

The projects were designed and refined over many years as teaching tools that I could use to effectively foster desired student learning. I believe that, in beginning design, developing a project over time that produces effective learning is more valuable than creating new projects for the sake of novelity. A side benefit of maintaining and refining projects is that students can judge their performance relative to past student work. This sets quality standards and supports student's sense of accomplishment and pride when they meet or exceed the standards.

Daily Lesson Plans

I have included my daily lesson plans that provide a description of what I did every day in class. These show the way that I went about trying to keep multiple learning objectives progressing simultaneously throughout the quarter. The lesson plans also give a sense of how I conducted a beginning design studio. Finally, they include in-class tutorials and exercises that do not appear in the syllabi.


I wrote the two texts to support the beginning design program described in the syllabi. However, they are written to stand alone and can be used to support many types of courses. Please feel free to download these publications for your personal reference. However, you must contact me for permission to use them as texts in a course or program.

Creating Relationships

The ideas described in this publication are fundamental to my approach to teaching beginning design. They inform my learning objectives and project development. The publication includes chapters on: perception and meaning; how we develop our appreciation for visual experiences and deepen our dialogue; the formal concepts that affect how we see and think about the world; and complexity as an effective concept for understanding and evaluating the world.

Drawing Form

This publication provides a primer for creating the illusion of three-dimensional form and space on two-dimensional surfaces. The publication includes chapters on: the fundamental visual depth cues and how they can be represented in drawings; the fundamental perspective techniques that form the foundation for all perspective drawing; three direct perspective setups; and the graphic languages used in perspectives.