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Script for VA-Bib Infomercial

Today, we are discussing performance as a method of investigation in design research. Here is the script for my Infomercial to demonstrate how you can answer the questions required of any proposal, but do so in an engaging form.

The five questions are:

  1. What is your question, concept proposal, or hypothesis?
  2. How does it fit within the existing field of design?
  3. What are your methods or approach?
  4. What are your qualifications to conduct the project?
  5. What is your project's contribution to the field of design?

As long as the students answer the five questions in a compelling way, they can express themeselves in any form.

VA-Bib Infomercial

Script by Dori Tunstall

HDC002 Methods of Investigation

17 May 2010

DISCLAIMER: This program is/has been a paid presentation for VA-Bib, Visual Annotated Bibliography and is brought to you by Go-Diva Industries.


Teacher is clearly frustrated marking students’ papers. She marks an exaggerated N on one paper, then another, then another.

Why won’t these design students ever cite proper references?

She puts her head in her hands and drops her head on the table.


Wonder how you can get your design students to read and do proper citations?


Teacher looks up to see where the voice is coming from.

 Yes, yes, yes. They make me want to tear my hair out.

 She begins to tear her hair out.


 Don’t tear your hair out. I have just what you need.

The Hostess enters the frame. She removes the teacher’s hands from her hair and stands her up. 


What you need is the VA-Bib?


The Teacher looks puzzled.

The VA what?


The Hostess turns to the audience.  

 The VA-Bib or Visual Annotated Bibliography. Invented by Dr. Dori Tunstall in 2006. The VA-Bib is a method of investigation that gets design students reading through designing.


The Teacher turns to the audience.  

 Reading through designing? How does it do that?


Let me tell you how. The Visual Annotated Bibliography combines the scholarly activity of reading/viewing lots of text with the form making activities of design in four easy steps.

 The Hostess holds up a paper listing the steps and the instructions for each.  

 Step one: The student has to collect a list of references and skim them.

Step two: On a business-size card, the student has to write out an annotation for each reference, which includes a descriptive paragraph and an evaluative paragraph. 

Step three: The student has to select an image that visually explains the content of the reference.

Step four: The student has to map the references on a matrix made up of the top two themes and their opposites in the readings.

 The Hostess holds up four fingers and mimics a student enjoying reading and writing.

 So in four easy steps, your design students will get hours of enjoyment reading their texts in order to design the beautiful, handy-dandy VA-Bib.


The Teacher jumps up and down and clasps his or her hands. The sits staring at the hostess when the hostess is talking and then at the audience when she or he is talking.   

Wow, that is really awesome! How and why was the VA-Bib invented?


Let me show you how.

The Hostess mimics grading and tearing out his or her hair.

Dr. Dori Tunstall had the same problem you had: getting design students to cite proper references or even read books and articles. But she wanted to know why.

 First, she read articles on the challenges of academic writing in the art and design context. 

 The Hostess holds up blank papers as if they are articles.

 She looked at the 2004 writings on the projects of Lockheart, Edwards, Raein and Raatz on Writing Purposefully in Art and Design at the Royal College of the Arts. She followed the 2005 work by Susan Orr, Margo Blythman, and Joan Mullin about how art and design students feel a lack of control or personal connection to writing. She realized that the act of creating scholarship had to recognize what Nigel Cross  (2005) called Designerly Ways of Knowing.

 The Hostess holds blank books (e.g. books wrapped in white paper).

 Then, she looked at the ways in which experts performed knowledge. Inspired by the work of Pierre Bourdieu on the Role of Intellectual in the Modern World, she thought about his ideas on diminishing expertise of the expert and thus how designers can fit within the world of expertise. Their designerly visual orientation can be a form of expertise with the written-verbal.

 This led her to look at the field of visual rhetoric in the book, Defining Visual Rhetoric by Charles Hill and Marguerie Helmers, and articles on C.S. Peirce’s Systems of Decorative, Indicative, and Informative visual rhetoric.

 The Hostess holds paper with C.S. Peirce’s system from article. 

 This helped her to think through how to combine the textual rhetoric with visual rhetoric in an exercise.

 The Hostess holds paper with light bulb.  

This exercise became what is now known as the VA-Bib, the visual annotated bibliography.


Designerly Ways of Knowing, I had never thought about that. So how will I know that it will work for my students?


 The Hostess holds paper with sign says: Only $499.99   

 Besides our money back guarantee, for only $499.99 more we will throw in a series of investigations on how your students might respond to the VA-Bib.

 The Hostess mimics conducting a survey with pen and paper at the door.  

 Our first method will be a survey on how many of your design students like or do not like to read and write in classes and why.

 The Hostess mimics packing a bag of materials (paper balls in plastic bag) and throws it out to the audience.  

 Based on that survey, we will ask about 24 students fill out cultural probes as developed by Gaver in 1999. From that we will get a sense of the creative culture of design students and how they feel about specific types of writing.

 The Hostess mimics following someone and then interviewing.

 From the cultural probes, we will select 12 students of different genders, international/national profiles, and comfort with writing for shadowing and in-context interviews. These more intimate techniques will take us deep into the students thoughts, actions, and feelings about doing the VA-Bib.

 The Hostess mimics counting and moving post it notes.

 We will use a combination of frequency analysis for the survey and affinity diagramming analysis with Hanna’s Post It Note Manifesto for the cultural probes, shadowing, and interviews.

 The Hostess plops down in front of the teacher a bunch of papers.

 Then we will develop a report on the student’s experience of the VA-Bib for you to use as a benchmark against your Student Feedback Survey data each year.


Wow, the VA-Bib, and the studies for only $499.99 more. What a deal! How do I know that I can trust you?


The Hostess tries to look honest.

 We at Go-Diva Industries have worked in the field of Edutainment for over 25 years. The VA-Bib has been tested globally among a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate studies, here and in the U.S. Dr. Dori Tunstall is a well-recognized expert in the field of Design Anthropology, which combines social science with designerly ways of knowing. And we offer a money back guarantee.


Okay, I’m convinced. But what will be the benefits of the VA-Bib for my students and the world of design in general?


 The Hostess mimics the actions: being bored, cutting and pasting, and feeling happy.

Do your students find reading and writing boring? The VA-Bib can change that by turning reading into a fun, engaging design-making project. Cutting and pasting, selecting images and words, the VA-Bib makes reading feel like coloring with crayons as a child.

 The Hostess holds her head like she is confused, but then mimics making out the grid with the cards.

 Do your students have a hard time organizing their thoughts? The VA-Bib can change that by showing them how to map their complex thoughts into a simple 2 X 2 grid for easy communication. 

 The Hostess looks sad and humiliated and then proud.

 Have your students ever felt like the world of academia does not respect the way they express themselves? The VA-Bib can change that by showing that visual content has the same conceptual interpretation and communication power as textual content.

 The VA-Bib has provided many benefits for other design students all over the world, and will provide these benefits to your students as well.


The Teacher looks at the audience

 Ok, I’m sold on the VA-Bib. How do I get some for my students?


The Hostess holds up the phone number.

 Just call 03 5555 5555 and order your VA-Bib kit for only $49,999.99. That’s right, for only $49,999.99 you get the instruction booklet, business cards, and poster board with pre-drawn matrix for over 500 students.  Just call 03 5555 5555.

If you act now, you also get for only $499.99 the VA-Bib student evaluation package.

Just call 03 5555 5555.

That’s right for less than $50,500 you get the VA-Bib Kit and student evaluation package. So call 03 5555 5555

Operators are standing by.