Teaching Experience

• Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University – 2019/Present
• Full-time CLTA Assistant Professor at OCAD University – 2014/2019
• Sessional at Centennial College – 2019
• Teaching Assistant at York University – 2014
• Sessional at OCAD University – 2007/2014
• Guest instructor at OCAD University – 2003

Teaching Philosophy

It is essential that first-year art and design students are not merely trained in the fundamentals but are also exposed to content and concept development that goes beyond responding to outcome-
oriented assignment briefs or following conventions of Western design precedents. I believe that diversity can be cultivated in studio courses by creating curriculum that embraces experiential, open-ended projects—projects where students learn by doing, sharing, and discovering what a project outcome could be rather than being told what it should be. Fundamentals and precedents are important but restricts the beginning design student to a finite, predictable, and culturally limited view of what art and design is. Such restricted curriculum also risks the erasure of what students bring to the classroom—diverse perspectives and years of unique experiences. I believe that art and design fundamentals and precedents are a starting point in an education that has students and faculty reflecting on, questioning, and pushing against what has come before. Curriculum that cultivates diverse approaches to assignments incites learning from and with both faculty and students, unlike the top-down learning which occurs when teachers present themselves as master. My teaching philosophy embraces the creation of safe environments in which we are all learning together.
Much of my research is in critical design/studio pedagogy. Areas of study include Experiential learning, scaffolding, Writing Across the Discipline theory, and reflective practice.  
Experiential Learning: The instruction of technique is essential in an arts institute. Demonstrations of best practices, both analogue and digital, happen regularly in my studio classes. However, these demonstrations do not go beyond the craft of making in order to avoid advocating for a specific aesthetic or style. My goal is to assist students in finding their own unique visual voice. Therefore, my first-year classes focus on process (experience) over product. Kolb explains experiential learning as when experiences are had, understood, and are transformed into knowledge. An example of how I use this theory in my classroom is an assignment that I give my first-year students which has a starting point during which students engage with theoretical research; it then has students making work in unpredictable ways (empirical research); it oscillates between two, three, and four dimensional explorations; it asks students to find connections between theoretical and empirical research; and has no predetermined end product. This project moves students away from thinking about what it is and what it looks like to what it can be—what are all the possibilities? Consequently, each student will be working on a very unique project and because of this I must be nimble and open to a diverse number of variables. I guide and advise each student as individuals which enables them to generate their own knowledge—which is shared with the class—and they begin to take responsibility for their own learning. As one student stated in a course feedback survey:
    “Saskia has really given her students the chance to discover their own strengths, interests, and weaknesses. She provides her students a wonderful chance to really push their limits, and try something extraordinary that they have not tried out before. Saskia tends to hold back her opinions to allow her students to develop their own ideas on their own projects, and also their peers’. It is an energetic environment to learn in” (anonymous).
However, process-driven projects are challenging for students because the outcome is not defined—there is a lot of uncertainty and students are unable to fall back on habits and familiar techniques.
In response to this I have developed numerous tools that can help students navigate this unease.
Scaffolding: Beginning design students are unaccustomed to the rigor, the expectations, the volume of work, and the mental exhaustion that accompanies the requirements of a design degree. The anxiety and stress can cause creative paralysis in the most imaginative of students. In response to this I have designed assignments that are staged, scaffolded, and marked weekly. This approach reduces uncertainty and supports students in the development of time management and creative process strategies.  
Other scaffolding techniques include writing exercises which relate to specific stages of assignments. I use writing exercises to reinforce the learning outcomes of an assignment, to help students acquire discipline-specific language, to help students become reflective of their own practice, and to have students critically engage with their making processes. I also use writing exercises to help build student confidence when required to engage in classroom discussions and critiques.
Active Participation: I believe in an active and collaborative studio environment and have seen
the positive results because of it. Writing exercises are a tool I use to get students critically engaged with their own and the work of their peers before having classroom discussions. This technique corresponds to Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in The Disciplines theories of learning. Students are encouraged to develop comments that are thoughtful and actionable and to refer to the language of design when preparing their notes. I allow students to read directly from these notes to give them more confidence when speaking in front of their peers. This helps reduce the anxiety of students who may be uneasy being called upon in class and alleviates the stress for English language learners. Writing not only helps students feel more comfortable partcicipating in class discussions and critiuqes but also helps them develop their discipline-specific vocabulary.
Reflective Practice: Rigorous reflection and refinement of assignments, lectures, exercises, and
rubrics through in-class observation and student feedback is essential to my teaching practice.
I regularly employ these techniques to ensure that students are receiving the support they require
to succeed, to ensure my courses remain relevant, and to address where students experience
difficulties. Assignments shift and evolve as I work with students in order to maintain a challenging and positive studio experience. I adopt this same technique with colleagues teaching beginning-
design students by promoting a culture of sharing and reflection. I believe that collaboration on curriculum generates relevant and purposeful content, projects, and exercises resulting in a far richer student experience and a more purposeful, consistent, and coherent curriculum.
A rigorous education plays a vital role in shaping individuals. The classroom should be a safe
space for learning through experience—including risk taking and failure—and the sharing and expression of the cultural backgrounds of the students—not to obscure them with Western
dogma. Not only will this create a richer environment for learning, but will hopefully cultivate
empathetic and respectful designers and citizens.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Teaching Experience

Design Workshop – Capstone

  • students establish research methodologies and formal processes to investigate their topic and address it in a manner that fulfills their desired career trajectory
  • the studio culminates in a presentation of a body of work that is the product of the student's design practice over the year.
  • the critical approach to research, formal process, and conceptual integration encourages student reflection on what it means to work with specific content, methods and media.
  • students are expected to document and catalogue their individual design practice in order to integrate their final research, formal and conceptual progresses.

Communication: Surface, Object, Space

  • this course introduces students to the development of three-dimensional form 
  • students explore materials and their structural principles through analogue and digital methods
  • students will begin to locate relationships between the form that they construct, it's location in space, their concept, and the meaning found in materials and processes.   
  • in class exercises have students working on techniques on constructing form in three-dimensions using various materials 
  • students will work towards understanding how their three-dimensional forms can live within both two- and three-dimensional spaces and environments. 
 Experimental Typography at York University, second year
  • Students are encouraged to experiment with various aspects of letterform development and how materials and form can help communicate a concept
  • Students also learn to see typographic fowm as a narrative in itself
  • this was part of my experience as a Design Masters student thus the course and all the assignments prepared by Professor Paul Sych

Colour In Context at OCADU, first year

  • online hybrid course where lectures are given online and studio occurs in the classroom
  • responsible for studio component where students explore colour shifts depending on context both physically and psychologically
  • in class exercises have students mixing colour both digitally and anologue to to explore and build an understanding of visual perception and how media affects colour. 

Communication Design 1 & 2 at OCADU, first year

  • an introduction of tools, techniques, decision, vocabulary and criticality
  • this course emphasizes an iterative process of design in both two-, three- and four-dimensions 
  • students engage with various media and both digital and analogue methods
  • students are exposed to both historica and contemporary designers
  • in class exercises engage students in explorations of different working processes and practices

Typography 1 at OCADU, first year

  • students are exposed to both historic and contemporary type designers
  • exploration of the history and relevance of typography and typefaces including type setting, anatomy, structure, vocabulary, placement, proportion, relationships and form
  • in class exercises address the nuance of typographic form and typesetting

Drawing Translations at OCADU, first and second year 

  • this course explores drawing as not only image making but also as a way to translate, deconstruct, recompose, as well as a way to develop ideas as part of the design process — to help them visualize and conceptualize
  • students learn to use their drawing skills to observe detail, understand perspective and to translate and investigate their immediate environment
  • development of in class drawing exercises that explore, blind, contour, cross-contour, silhouettes, anatomy and icon/symbol development

Research Methodologies, third year.

  • teaching various research methods including pure and applied approaches
  • research is conducted on theoretical as well as professional levels
  • students engage with each other and society/community to understand their accountability and responsibility as design practitioners.

Visual Forces at OCADU, first year.

  • hired to create an intensive 6 hour studio course in which 2D and 3D designers teach colour theory and the elements and principles of design across all dimensions
  • creation of a balanced introduction to design practice demonstrating how the principles and theories of colour and design are interconnected across a wide variety of applications
  • expose students at entry level to greater opportunities within their field of study

Art Director's Workshop at OCADU, fourth year.

  • hired as a guest instructor to conduct a 6 week course that focused on branding and identity work
  • designed a workshop to prepare graduating students for professional practice

Service at OCAD University

  • curriculum committee
  • course lead for Communication Design 1 and 2
  • course lead for Communication: Surface, Object, Space
  • 2014/present – OCAD University has begun a WAC program in which writing will be introduced therough Writing In The Disciplines (WID) beginning in the fall of 2015. I am a WAC Fellow representing the design department in developing this initiative. 


  • 2014 York University: Master of Design
  • 2004 Ontario College of Art and Design University: Bachelor of Design ~ Graduated with honors
  • 1998 Ontario College of Art and Design: Diploma ~ Graduated with honors


  • 2016 Inspired Teaching Award – Excellence in Teaching First Year ~ through OCAD U
  • 2015 Inspired Teaching Award – Leadership to Advance Teaching – For demonstrating passion and commitment to student learning that inspires others towards excellence in art and design education
    ~ through OCAD U
  • 2013 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s ~ through SSHRC
  • 2013 FGS Tuition Fee Bursary-Domestic ~ through York University
  • 2012 York Graduate Scholarship ~ through York University
  • 1998 Packaging Association of Canada Award ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design
  • 1997 Charles William Mitchell Tuition Award ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design
  • 1996 Dr. Eugene A. Pogetto Scholarship ~ through the Ontario College of Art and Design 

2007 – 2011 
Portfolio Workshops ~ for OCADU
Created a full day workshop for students wishing entrance to a post-secondary visual arts institution. I developed a series of design exercises for students in order for them to prepare for their portfolio interview for college admission. The workshop included studio-based creative and conceptual thinking.

Portfolio Admissions Interviewer ~ for OCADU
Interviewing students and assessed their work for acceptance into OCADU.

National Portfolio Day ~ representing OCADU.
Reviewing, assessing and offering suggestions on the portfolios of students who intend on applying to an art institute.


  • Registered Graphic Designers ~ Ontario Chapter — Member of the Design Educators Committee
  • AIGA
  • Craft ​Ontario