Graphic Design as a Medium to Enhance Students’ Knowledge of Malaysian Cultural Art Forms

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Jinchi Yip
Esther Sarojini Gnanamalar Daniel
Dorothy DeWitt


The principles of graphic design are pertinent in graphic design education, ensuring students are well equipped with the knowledge that guides them to produce sound design work. While abiding to these principles when producing graphic works, it is just as important for students to understand their knowledge of local art forms. Through the researcher’s experience, she has found that much of the students’ graphic work lack local art forms in their content. As a communication medium between the researcher (lecturer) and the students, graphic design education hence became the platform for students to learn about Malaysian cultural art forms (MCAF). Using a case study action research approach, underpinned by some Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) principles, the research explored a group of 20 graphic design students’ initial understanding of their knowledge of Malaysian cultural art forms (MCAF). Then intervention activities that incorporated MCAF in the Malaysian graphic design class were implemented after which the students initial understanding of their knowledge in MCAF were determined. In Cycle 1, the researcher conducted a focus group interview and administered questionnaires to gauge students’ initial understanding of MCAF. In Cycle 2 intervention activities were incorporated into the classroom learning. The interventions were, a visit to a contemporary Malaysian art exhibition; participation in a batik workshop; a visit and hands-on experience making some craft work at a Mah Meri cultural village, and attending a talk about wayang kulit, as well as viewing some wayang kulit exhibits. Upon the completion of each activity, the students had to answer a questionnaire with regards to their learning and understanding of each of the MCAF. A focus group interview was conducted at Cycle 3 for triangulation of data. Findings show that the students did not have much knowledge nor understanding of MCAF before participating in the intervention activities. However, the students’ knowledge appeared enhanced after participating in the intervention activities.

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Author Biography


Currently awaiting her viva voce to complete her PhD in Education (Curriculum and Technology), Jinchi's thesis revolves around incorporating Malaysian cultural art forms into graphic design education to investigate the students' cultural identity. Jinchi's research and interest has always been in culture, art and design. As a senior lecturer and a programme director at The Design School in Taylor's University, Malaysia, Jinchi has been in the art and design field of education for the last two decades. She is an active contributor of articles for the school's magazine website, Kreatif Beats.


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