Senior Thesis Annotated Bibliography

Jonny Mocek, University of Arkansas, BFA Graphic Design (in progress)

Hudson, L. (1966). Contrary Imaginations: A Psychological Study of the English Schoolboy. London: Taylor & Francis.

The book describes two types of schoolboys, the ‘converger’ and the ‘diverger.’ The differences between learning ability, and personality difference is examined in detail. The differences between the two are examined in how and what motivates men and women into the Arts or the Sciences, and examines how some qualities allow for success and productivity and others do not. The research examines both intelligence and personality that throws light on the learning process.

Voelker, Ulysses. (2008). Structuring Design: Graphic Grids in Theory and Practice. Little, Brown.

Voelker covers the basics of grid, guides and gutters and how they are used to structure, arrange and organize content. The others present these as inherent to every medium that ensures a novel looks like a novel, a textbook looks like a textbook, and how information is formatted. It not only goes into the structuring of a page but also theory on how constraints and consistency is imperative to creativity. He examines how method and intuition are related and how to use constraints to generate novel layouts and ideas.

Scott, Ginamarie, Lyle E. Leritz, and Michael D. Mumford. “Types of creativity training: Approaches and their effectiveness.” The Journal of Creative Behavior 38, no. 3 (2004): 149–179.

This study examines creativity training in psychology. The general model most commonly applied in creativity training is best defined by its focus on one key aspect of creative thought — idea generation. However, the journal examines how multifaceted training can be and what is most effective. Their research on training was based on how 1) the cognitive processes of creative problem-solving skills targeted for training, 2) the training techniques used to develop these skills, 3) the media used to deliver training, and 4) the kind of practice exercises provided. Their goal was to understand the fundamental nature of the creative act. Another goal was to apply their understanding of this act to encourage the production of useful new ideas.

Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford university press.

The book in chapters 14 and 15 examines the relationship between cognition, emotions and creativity. The chapters examine how creativity and emotions are evaluated in everyday affairs and reflect in our scientific theories. Psychologically the author examines how creativity and cognition are classed among the “higher” thought processes, while emotions are often treated as noncognitive — a euphemism for “lower” thought processes. This dichotomy between the creative and the emotional and the creation of sustained novelty are not only based on the individual but also the cultural and cognitive aspects present. It provides the groundwork for looking at both creative achievements that were brought about through rigorous experimentation as well as eureka moments from when the mind wanders.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

The book critiques the current educational system by taking a historic approach to discussing why the education system must evolve to move forward. Thomas and Brown note that schools were developed for societies in which change happened much more slowly than it does today. They focus on how our collective knowledge is constantly changing and the specificity and capability to learn every new skill available would be ineffective. They note that culture thrives on change and situations and circumstances that affect them to morph and evolve over time. They propose shifting from a teaching focus, in which the instructor transferred knowledge to the pupil, to an emphasis on student learning through play and delayed judgement. Thomas and Seely Brown propose play as a strategy for embracing and adapting to change, rather than attempting to grow from it.

Mölle, M., Marshall, L., Lutzenberger, W., Pietrowsky, R., Fehm, H. L., & Born, J. (1996). “Enhanced dynamic complexity in the human EEG during creative thinking.” Neuroscience Letters, 208(1), 61–64.

This study shows that divergent thinking, considered the general process underlying creative production, can be distinguished from convergent, analytical thought based on the dimensional complexity of ongoing electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. It’s important because it not only shows where the brain is active during creative exercises but also that the prefrontal cortex plays a major role in cognition. It really perpetuates the idea that creativity favors the prepared mind.

Dietrich, A. (2004). “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Creativity.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11(6), 1011–1026.

This article outlines four types of creative insights, each mediated by a distinctive neural network. It outlines a framework of creativity based on functional neuroanatomy. In short it defines creativity as happening in consciousness. We can tap into that in multiple ways and it provides a base of neuroanatomical knowledge to approach the subject of creativity training.

Galenson, D. W. (2010). “Understanding Creativity.” Journal of Applied Economics, 13(2), 351–362.

Understanding creativity breaks down the creation of innovative products and ideas into two major sections, the old masters and young geniuses. One uses experimental innovation through trial and error results in ideas that accumulate gradually. In contrast, conceptual innovators make sudden breakthroughs by formulating new ideas, usually at an early age. Galenson shows why such artists as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Jackson Pollock, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, and Alfred Hitchcock were experimental old masters, and why Vermeer, van Gogh, Picasso, Herman Melville, James Joyce, Sylvia Plath, and Orson Welles were conceptual young geniuses. He also explains how this changes our understanding of art and its past.

Stokes, Patricia D. “Using Constraints to Generate and Sustain Novelty.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 1, no. 2 (2007): 107.

In this study Stokes examines using constraints to generate and sustain novelty by breaking down artistic movements and providing a framework to create constraints. The study shows that without constraints, ideas form in the cul-de-sac of the customary and the successful past attempts, i.e. the known. Alternatively, Stokes places constraints into tests to show that novelty is not only possible but inevitable. She states “all completely structured problems-like a jigsaw puzzle-have single, correct, predetermined goal states. Consequently, they preclude novel solutions. Novelty is only possible with incompletely or ill-structured problems.”

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.” Psychological review, 100(3), 363.

The theoretical framework presented in this article explains expert performance as the end result of individuals’ prolonged efforts to improve. It shows that in most domains of expertise, individuals begin in their childhood a regimen of deliberate practice designed to optimize improvement. Individual differences, even among elite performers, are closely related to assessed amounts of deliberate practice. They prove that many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years. Analysis of expert performance provides unique evidence on the potential and limits of extreme environmental adaptation and learning.

Eggenhuizen, Luc (2016). Temporal, Random, Interactive, Fluid, Responsive. KABK.

The thesis is led by the research question: In which ways is the digital era increasing the dynamic aspect of typography? In the research Eggenhuizen looks into the changes of typography throughout history, technology, and classification. This results in the questioning of kinetic typography and whether “moving” typography will transform the image making culture.

The thesis deeply examines the constructs and results of historic movements in typography and places them in a current context. It’s important because it points out the growth and evolution of our medium over time and affects this project as it relates to the playing and deconstructing of past trends to make new futures.

Abdullah, N. & Gonzales Crisp, D. (2018). “Improvisation in the Design Classroom.” Dialectic, 2.1: pgs. 10–17. doi:

This research is opened by the quote, “Designing, if it is to survive as an activity through which we transform our lives, on earth and beyond, has itself to be redesigned, continuously.” Abdullah and Gonzales Crisp use this to start a discourse on the value and benefits of using improvisation as a catalyst for change in design pedagogy. It covers the importance of both flexibility and reflectivity to create students that are ready and willing to face uncertainty. They show that in improvisation, collaboration is imperative and leads to learning that requires suspense in judgement to grant room for play.

Rose, M., & Rose, M. A. (2009). Writer’s block: The cognitive dimension. SIU Press.

This study approaches writer’s block as a measurable problem that can be analyzed and remedied. It defines writers block, gives a review of previous and present studies, and breaks down the composing process. The cognitive model of writing and writers block is analyzed in research procedures involving a questionnaire and stimulated-recall study. It breaks down results of the data and approaches to examine teaching methods that enable writing methods. The results point out how planning can cripple the writing process, how constraints can enable creativity, and how fluency acts as a catalyst for ideation. I think it could benefit from a cross-cultural application, but that has been examined in many other pieces of the literature.

Kaufman, S. B., & Gregoire, C. (2016). Wired to create: Unraveling the mysteries of the creative mind. Penguin.

This book is written of the psychological assumption (and findings) that highly creative people tend to have “messy minds.” It breaks down the neuroscience and habits of creatives to find what promotes creative thought. The chapters explore topics such as: imaginative play, daydreaming, passion, solitude, intuition, openness to experience, mindfulness, sensitivity, turning adversity into advantage, and thinking differently. The book serves as a primer to creating and sustaining creative practices by breaking down processes from people like: Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Marcel Proust, Thomas Edison and more.

El-Zanfaly, D. (2015). [I3] Imitation, iteration and improvisation: Embodied interaction in making and learning. Design Studies, 41, 79–109.

This thesis investigators the separation between creative practices and the design phase from the construction phase in architecture. It argues that separation of the two inhibits human agency within the making process and creates a reliance on digital fabrication. The authors show that linear methods of production produce hurdles for non-experts and that design, while perceived as intuitive, is actually a skilled practice that develops through interaction and process. It looks at not only what we are making but examines how we learn to make things?

In qualitative methodical research they push for embodied, situated interaction between learners, machines, materials, and the things-in-the-making. The authors push for a process that is a wash-rinse-repeat of imitation, interaction, and improvisation.

Zosh, J. N., Hopkins, E. J., Jensen, H., Liu, C., Neale, D., Hirsh-Pasek, K., … & Whitebread, D. (2017). Learning through play: a review of the evidence. LEGO Fonden.

The review of the evidence by other sources is put in place to prove that through active engagement with ideas and knowledge, and also with the world at large, we see children as better prepared to deal with tomorrow’s reality — a reality of their own making. From this perspective, learning through play is crucial for positive, healthy development, regardless of a child’s situation. Lego here argues that we should teach children deeper knowledge. It goes past learning definitions of things but goes into learning how they connect to the real world. We learn through iterations, uncertainty, active engagement, and social interaction. It breaks down playful learning into three categories: games, free play, and guided play because they allow for room to explore. They argue that direct instruction with designer/strict constraints are not conducive to learning.

Parker, R., & Thomsen, B. S. (2019). Learning through play at school. A study of playful integrated pedagogies that foster children’s holistic skills development in the primary school classroom. White paper. The LEGO Foundation, 75.

The Lego foundation here breaks down integrated pedagogies that foster development to make a model for learning through play at schools. They break down the learning into both outcomes and processes. Processes include: active, collaborative, guided discovery based, experiential, inquiry-based, problem based, project based, and Montessori style education. These processes are used to create experiences that are: meaningful, joyful, engaging, iterative, and socially interactive. They argue that learning through play provides opportunities to foster the full array of holistic skills, including cognitive, social, emotional, creative and physical.

Besser, M., Roberts, I., Walsh, M., Wengert, J., & Kantrowitz, D. (2013). The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.

The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual, maybe not the bible of improv but most certainly one of the major gospels of long form improv. It is a practical “how to” book, the guide provides exercises throughout to help the reader master each new concept and technique introduced. The manual is written to be understood by beginners and provides a basis for practicing the simple “yes and” to building on the scene.

Eckersley, M. (1990). Randomness, Rules and Compositional Structure in Design. Leonardo, 75–80.

The paper examines how concepts of randomness and chaos impinge on the creative study and practice of design. A body of original work is documented that involves transformations of computer based graphics generated by randomized number streams. Eckersley shows that a generative-computer-based method can create a vast quantity of graphic shapes and composition, but void of rules the compositional structure has no order and creates less visual appeal. This helps my research because it’s not just about creating a space for randomness, or quantity to occur, it’s more of a guided process of controlled randomness.

IDEO. (2003). IDEO Method Cards: 51 ways to inspire design. William Stout.

In 2003 IDEO made a deck of cards that are divided into four categories: Learn, Look, Ask, and Try. They showcase the methods of ideo through exploratory experiential learning and development. Their goal, “to keep people at the center of the design process,” is implemented by the use of the cards. They wanted to give opportunity for those new or seasoned to design thinking methods a way that inspires teamwork, and allows for alternative perspectives to looking at problems.

Maurer, L., Paulus, E., Puckey, J., & Wouters, R. (Eds.). (2013). Conditional Design Workbook. Valiz.

Conditional Design is a design method formulated by the graphic designers Luna Maurer, Jonathan Puckey, Roel Wouters and the artist Edo Paulus which foregrounds process over finished products. As a design strategy, it is defined by playfully designed sets of rules and conditions that stimulate collaboration between participants and lead to unpredictable outcomes. The prompts are inherently open ended but guide the users through a step-by-step process. The workshops are simple, place dots in turn, draw lines, connect lines, alternate colors. It’s a good primer to teach conditional design and a guide to creating workshops that teach generative systems.



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Jonathan Mocek

Jonathan Mocek


I am a current Senior pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design at the University of Arkansas. I eagerly seek to create works that are clever, beautiful & succinct.