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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.



  • PhD, Massey University - NZ, 01/12/2009
  • Master of Design, Curtin University of Technology, 01/12/1996
  • Diploma in Education, University of Dundee, 01/12/1984
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Duncan of Jordanstone, College of Art, 01/12/1983


Research keywords

  • analogical reasoning
  • illustration
  • meta-cognition
  • student learning
  • text interpretation

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.


  • English

Fields of Research

120307Visual Communication Design (Incl. Graphic Design)60


Editorial Board.

  • Member - Journal. Art, Design and Communications in Higher Education



2014RATA. Research and Teaching Awards
Massey University, College of Creative Arts (New Zealand)
This was an award for teaching excellence. Shard by myself and two colleagues for innovative work carried out on blended and online delivery methods.
2010Good practice teaching grant
AKO Aotearoa. National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence (New Zealand)
I was awarded a good practice grant by AKO National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence in 2010 for work which assisted design students develop meta-cognitiive awareness of their design process. The criteria was based on providing verifiable evidence that the work I carried out clearly facilitated student learning.
2009RATA. Research and Teaching Awards
Massey University (New Zealand)
In 2009 Massey University's College of Creative Arts awarded me an'Innovation in Teaching Award for "Innovative thinking around learning strategies that enhance students awareness of art and design processes".


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.


Teaching keywords

  • design process
  • drawing
  • illustration
  • theory
  • visual communication design


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Journal article (2 outputs)

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

Conference (5 outputs)

2010McAuley M, 'Developing meta-cognitive awareness of design process', ConnectedED 2nd International conference on design education, Sydney (2010)
2009McAuley 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)
2008McAuley 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]
2006McAuley 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)
2005McAuley M, 'Written text into visual text: An investigation into novice design students' approaches to text interpretation', The Reflective Practitioner, Curtin university (2005)
Show 2 more

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

2009McAuley 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 grants1
Total funding$2,000

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

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

2014 (1 grants)

Faculty PVC Conference Assistance Grant 2014$2,000
Funding Body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science & IT

Project Team
Doctor Mike McAuley
PVC Conference Assistance GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions0

No Supervisions.


Dr Michael (Mike) McAuley

Work Phone(02) 4921 7191
Fax(02) 4921 8970
PositionSenior Lecturer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Enter Building code/room eg D208,
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308