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Diagramming Wrongly:

Bridging Theory & Practice with

Indisciplined Diagramming


This paper offers an overview of our recent pedagogic action-research that explores Art and Design students’ use of diagramming, to develop their contextual and critical understanding. In so doing it considers the often difficult relationship between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ as experienced by students.

We argue that student diagramming can provide a productive bridge between theory and practice and between ‘read/write’ and visually orientated modes of learning.

We conclude that our students’ frequent misapplication of certain key forms of diagramming often provide a productive ‘first gesture’ into their developing insights. Hence such notional ‘mistakes’ should be actively encouraged rather than corrected.


Key words: Diagramming, Indisciplinarity, Art and Design, Theory and Practice, First Gestures.


‘Research Matters: Articles from the Pedagogic Research Conference 2018’   Falmer, University of Brighton, 2019.

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