As a design teacher, I have often been requested for tips from students as to how to prepare for the semester ending juries. Reflecting upon my observations as a jury member in several juries at both undergrad and post grad levels, both at NID and other design institutes, I am attempting to put together my thoughts here.
For the non-design readers, Juries are like an open viva at the end of the semester, in which the student presents all her academic work done in that semester. There are several courses, which the student has already undertaken in the semester, each one of which is evaluated by the course faculty. There is display of selected work done in various courses. The students often chooses to support her defense with an on-screen presentation (the software does not matter, whether it is keynote, or pdf or powerpoint). The jury comprises of three-to-four faculty members, often with an external member from the industry, who review the presentation. They often also ask leading questions to understand the overall learning of the student. At the end of the jury each student is evaluated on a predefined set of parameters.
Coming back to the point of how should the students plan their juries, which is expected to give a clear understanding of the overall learning in the semester. There are four major things to ponder over —
Awareness. What have you done? What are the courses you have taken this semester? What were the learning objectives and what kind of assignments did you do. These assignments (done individually or in a group) become the basis of articulating your learning. It is important to be aware of what all you did.
Comprehension. Understanding of new knowledge in the specific domain of the various courses. It could cover aspects of printing technology at one level to cognitive aspects in a course like word and image. Needless to say, this acquisition of new knowledge is always in the context of previous knowledge and understanding of the domain subject. Thus it is important to comprehend what are those layers, which have been added this semester.
Reflection. To reflect upon not only what and why you did, what you did, but also how you did it! How are the three aspects of objectives, tasks and technique are related to each other? How are the new experiences connecting to the previous knowledge base, skill sets and cognitive understanding? Reflect upon the value added while going through the process of doing all those assignments.
Realisation. This could be understood at two levels. First, a realization of why the new learning is relevant to the context of your chosen discipline or future profession. Understanding not just how you did what you did, but also of taking critical decisions of what you chose to do. Second, a realisation of your own strengths and peak points. There must have been some courses with which you struggled, while others which left you more excited and enthusiastic. At the same time an identification of the opportunities of improvement (rather than weaknesses).
The second part is how should one prepare for the jury?
Well, to begin with, timing your presentation is very critical. Please note how much time you have. Leaving aside the five to seven minutes for feedback from the jury members, plan to give enough time to each course. Talk about the overall learning citing examples from different courses.
Proper planning prevents poor performance. Prepare your presentation well in advance. Run a spell check but don’t depend fully on the software. (often ‘from’ is read as correct, when you wanted to say ‘form’). Be careful of typos. If you are going to use someone else’s computer ensure the fonts are installed.
Rehearse before the final show. Read aloud your presentation and time it. You could also use digital devices to record your own rehearsal. This will help you not only to sequence it the way you want to, but also help you in editing the the presentation. Talk about the key points which you want to share.
Revise your basic fundamentals. It is on their shoulders that all new learning rests. And unlike other disciplines, in design, the learning of previous semesters is not to be forgotten. The terminology, the jargon, the theories etall.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Ensure you have all your assignments in well presented and labeled folders. Just in case you may need to share some details, or the jury may ask for explorations.
Arriving at the destination is as important as the journey. Talk about your final product, but also share the process, as this will help the jury understand your reflections on why you took the decisions which you took.
Make sure the analog display of assignments / sheets reflect your attention to detail and ownership towards your own work. Right angles are right angles. Period.
Teaching happens in the class, but learning is not restricted to the classroom. Draw from relevant experiences of your extracurricular activities, and relate them to the learning objectives of the courses. Make connections.
Be objective and not judgmental. A jury member may have conducted a course for you, but in the jury his/her role is very different and specific. They are doing their job.
Last but not the least. It is not a pitch you are making to a prospective client. A jury is a learning situation. After your presentation is done, listen to the jury’s feedback with patience and humility. They are not your enemies, but your mentors who are helping you to grow as a design student.
Oh Yes, and one more thing — have conviction on yourself and faith on your capabilities.
“As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know”
— Donald Rumsfeld, from www.quotesondesign.com
Good Luck to all my students !