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Dr Mike McAuley

Senior Lecturer

School of Design Communication and IT

Career Summary


I have been involved in design practice and education since the 1980s. The bulk of my experience in teaching design was served at Massey University in New Zealand where i was for 19 years the Major co-ordinator of Illustration, a sub-disciplne of Visual Communication Design. I regard the relationship between my teaching and research as a nexus whereby each informs and enriches the other. This has led not only to published outputs, but also a number of teaching excellence awards. In 2013 I was invited on to the editorial board of the journal 'Art, design and Communications in Higher Education'. My research focuses on the creative process and I am particularly interested in how ideas originate and are developed  in visual form. From an epistemological perspective my work posits that design creativity not only uses tacit knowledge but that explicit thinking methods can also be identified during a creative act. Within an educational context this is signifiant, as meta-cognitive awareness of process can assist students in identifying strengths and weaknesses in the own  creative process. This awareness can, my research argues, assist students in developing better learning strategies and also assist their reflective process. Since I arrived at Newcastle I have sought to introduce into the new curriculum greater student awareness of design process through the incorporation of analytical and creative learning strategies. The image on the right is a first year student illustration which seeks to describe the design process through the analogy of an iceberg. The iceberg acts as a signifier for the design process as we only see the top 10% of an iceberg, the other 90% is hidden. and so, the encode-decode process takes place! By getting students to think analogically they become to realise that thought process leading to creativity can be identified. This helps de-mistify creativity as an unfathomable process and gives students meta-cognitive awareness of their thinking processes.


Research Expertise
Research expertise: Much of the research I have carried out uses the methodology of action research. This allows me to not only develop verifiable knowledge about student learning, but it also enables me to implement change into learning environments which seek to enhance student learning.I am also experienced in human participant research, semiotic analysis of visual imagery, interpretation of written text into visual imagery, the role of analogy in creativity, the design process and meta-cognition. While much of the work I have carried out is filtered through a design education lens, the overarching umbrella within which my research sits is best described as creativity research. Teaching expertise: My career began as a peripatetic art teacher in Primary schools in Scotland. I also taught in a Special school and in various High schools. Prior to commencing employment at UoN, I was the head of Illustration at Massey University's College of Creative Arts from 1995 till 2014. My teaching experience has also allowed me to serve on various committees and advisory groups which seek to enhance teaching and learning. Administrative expertise: In my role of Head of Illustration at Massey University, I helped create an entire specialist curriculum and act as line manager for numerous staff over the years.

I am currently working with a colleague on a paper which is itself an exploration into how design students can benefit from learning collaboratively. The following excerpt positions our call to action in this inquiry: The learning benefits of working collaboratively have in recent times become well established in design teaching programmes. Black (2005), and Jones et al (2007). Such studies suggest that collaborative learning activities bring about higher achievement than “competitive and individualistic learning” ( Jones et al, 2007, p. 183). And while Sawyer (2008) and Rogoff (2008) argue that the benefits of collaboration may be less about peer learning and the development of effective learning strategies and more behaviourally linked to the strengthening of individual self esteem, the evidence is compelling that design students do enjoy learning collaboratively. However, when it comes to learning theory, design students are usually confronted with a traditional model of knowledge dissemination through lectures and tutorials. In a traditional theory environment learning tends to be assessed through individual written discourse, i.e. the written essay. This study reports on an intervention which set out to apply a collaborative learning structure to a first year theory paper taught at the University of Newcastle, NSW.


  • PhD, Massey University - NZ
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Duncan of Jordanstone, College of Art
  • Diploma in Education, University of Dundee
  • Master of Design, Curtin University of Technology


  • analogical reasoning
  • design process
  • drawing
  • illustration
  • meta-cognition
  • student learning
  • text interpretation
  • theory
  • visual communication design


  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
120307 Visual Communication Design (incl. Graphic Design) 60
130199 Education Systems not elsewhere classified 40

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2013 -  Editorial Board - Art, Design and Communications in Higher Education Journal Art, Design and Communications in Higher Education Journal
1/01/1995 - 1/02/2014 Major co-ordinator, Illustration Massey University
College of Creative Arts. Institute of Communications Design
New Zealand



Year Award
2014 RATA. Research and Teaching Awards
2010 Good practice teaching grant
2009 RATA. Research and Teaching Awards
Massey University


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2010 McAuley M, 'A design education perspective on the process of interpreting words into pictures', Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, 9 111-133 (2010)
2007 McAuley M, 'Interpreting the visual image: An analysis of design students¿ analogical interpretations of a textual message', Prism, 4 1-5 (2007)

Conference (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 McAuley M, Roxburgh MWD, 'Learning Theory Through Collaboration and Visualization', Ireland International Conference on Education October 2014 Proceedings, Dublin (2014) [E1]
Co-authors Mark Roxburgh
2010 McAuley M, 'Developing meta-cognitive awareness of design process', ConnectedED 2nd International conference on design education, Sydney (2010)
2009 McAuley M, 'Learning strategies in interpreting text: From comprehension to illustration', Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008., Sheffield Hallam University Undisciplined! Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008. Sheffield, UK. July 2008 (2009)
2008 McAuley M, 'Interpreting written text into pictorial illustration through the use of conceptualised visual analogy', Education in change. NZARE national conference, Palmerston North. New Zealand (2008) [E3]
2006 McAuley M, 'Translation of the written word into a visual interpretation: Enhancing learning through the formal inclusion of comprehension strategies and the use of analogy to explain meaning', Enhancing Curricula: contributing to the future, meeting the challenges of the 21st century in the disciplines of art, design and communication, Hotel Sana Park. Lisbon Portugal. (2006)
2005 McAuley M, 'Written text into visual text: An investigation into novice design students' approaches to text interpretation', The Reflective Practitioner, Curtin university (2005)
Show 3 more conferences

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2009 McAuley M, A small drop of ink, falling like dew: an investigation into the process of interpreting the written word into an illustration, Massey University (2009)

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 1
Total funding $2,000

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20141 grants / $2,000

Faculty PVC Conference Assistance Grant 2014$2,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science & IT

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science & IT
Project Team Doctor Mike McAuley
Scheme PVC Conference Assistance Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1401225
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Total current UON EFTSL


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD Examination of the Influences of the Goldilocks Effect
Graphic Arts & Design Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle

Dr Mike McAuley


Senior Lecturer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Contact Details

Phone (02) 4921 7191
Fax (02) 4921 8970


Room Enter Building code/room eg D208
Building Design
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308