Gismo or Goad?

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  • Title: Gismo or Goad?: Using the Common Reading Program Book as a Means of Motivating Students to Keep a Sketchbook
  • Author(s): Elizabeth Tofte
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design Education
  • Keywords: Sketchbooks, Common Reading Program, Motivation, Undergraduate Education
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2325-128X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1298 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Tofte, Elizabeth Payne. 2017. "Gismo or Goad?: Using the Common Reading Program Book as a Means of Motivating Students to Keep a Sketchbook." The International Journal of Design Education 12 (1): 1-10. doi:10.18848/2325-128X/CGP/v12i01/1-10.
  • Extent: 10 pages


This article describes a multi-method approach used to motivate students to keep a sketchbook. First-year students in “Introduction to Landscape Architecture” were asked to read and sketch their interpretation of social and environmental issues presented in their university’s common reading program (CRP) book. CRP books are used by universities to encourage reading by offering freshmen interdisciplinary learning opportunities and community service projects. This was the first time the CRP book was used in a landscape architecture course or to motivate reflection-by-sketching. Results found 96 percent of students kept a sketchbook based on the CRP book, up from a low of 35 percent prior to using the CRP book. Students sketched their interpretation of outdoor gathering spaces, researched precedent for improving social and environmental issues, and even interpreted characters’ feelings. Students reported understanding the value of keeping their “design thinking” in one place. It is too soon to determine the long-term implications of this study on students’ sketching behavior. A longitudinal study will track students’ sketching habits through 2019. Results from this study may encourage other design-based educators to integrate their university’s CRP into studio sketching exercises, thereby cultivating literacy and drawing skills.