The rapid development of China’s furniture industry requires a large number of applied technical talents, so higher vocational colleges and universities are bound to take up the important mission of training and transporting a large number of new-age furniture industry workers with furniture design and manufacturing capabilities for the country.

Under the new situation of modern vocational education, the education and teaching of the profession must be reformed in order to keep up with the development of the industry, so that the training of talents and social needs can be closely combined.

The course of “Composition” mainly contains three major parts: plane composition, color composition and three-dimensional composition, which is a professional basic course required for higher vocational furniture design and manufacturing majors, and it plays an important role in inspiring students’ innovative thinking and cultivating their imagination, aesthetic and hands-on ability in the basic teaching of art design.

Therefore, it is of great significance to carry out research on the reform of the teaching of “composition” course in furniture design and manufacturing in higher vocational level to cultivate the application technology talents in shortage in furniture industry.

Problems of teaching “composition” course in higher vocational furniture design and manufacturing

(1) The teaching content and the subsequent professional courses cannot be effectively connected.

In the training program of furniture design in China, “composition” course is positioned as a compulsory basic course, which is usually taught by young teachers. However, these young teachers, who have just graduated, generally lack practical experience in design and production, and usually do not have a deep understanding of the talent cultivation goal of “cultivating vocational ability” in higher vocational institutions. As a result, although students understand some of the principles of composition, they do not know how to combine them with the future application of furniture design.

This kind of disconnected and divided teaching method is not only difficult to stimulate students’ interest in learning, but also very unfavorable to the cultivation of their innovative ability and design thinking.

(2) The teaching mode lacks relevance.

“Composition” course is a compulsory basic course for all design majors, but the teaching objectives of different design majors should have their own focus.

For example, the students of furniture design and manufacturing should be biased to cultivate their monolithic design ability, the students of architectural interior design should be biased to cultivate their spatial design ability, and the students of advertising design and production should be biased to cultivate their graphic design ability. …… This requires teachers to design different teaching programs according to the talent cultivation goals of different design majors. This requires teachers to design different teaching programs and adopt different teaching modes flexibly according to the talent cultivation objectives of different design majors.

However, higher vocational institutions often have insufficient teachers, and usually designate one teacher to be responsible for teaching “composition” courses for students of several different design majors. For the sake of saving time, these teachers often use one textbook, one set of teaching plan and one set of PPT to deal with the composition teaching tasks of different design majors. This single and similar teaching mode is not effectively combined with the characteristics of the majors, and the final teaching effect is unsatisfactory, which can hardly meet the requirements of different design majors in higher vocational institutions.

(3) The teaching mode of undergraduate is rigidly applied.

Most of the students of furniture design and manufacturing in higher education are engineering students who do not have solid foundation in painting and modeling, and generally have weak theoretical understanding, insensitive perception of art form beauty and lack of aesthetic ability.

However, many teachers do not recognize the characteristics of these students, and still use the traditional teaching methods they used in undergraduate education, i.e., instilling some boring theoretical knowledge into students in the classroom and making them copy a lot of composition works after class. This leads to students’ fear and even aversion to learning because of the difficulty in understanding some abstract theoretical knowledge and the difficulty in copying a large amount of manual work.

In addition, traditional hand-made composition works require students to buy a lot of drawing tools, coloring tools, drawing paper and model-making materials at their own expense, which causes a big financial burden to many poor students and to a certain extent, discourages them from learning the composition course.

Therefore, teachers in higher vocational institutions cannot copy the teaching mode of “composition” course of undergraduate institutions, and must take appropriate reform measures according to the characteristics of higher vocational students’ learning conditions.

Teaching reform measures of “composition” course in higher vocational furniture design and manufacturing

In view of the above-mentioned problems in the current teaching situation of “composition” course in higher vocational institutions, we have taken a series of reform measures in the teaching practice of “composition” course of furniture design and manufacturing in Guangxi Ecological Engineering Vocational College for many years. We have taken a series of reform measures in the teaching practice of “composition” course of furniture design and manufacturing program of Guangxi Ecological Engineering Vocational and Technical College for many years and achieved good results initially.

(1) Revise the personnel training program and “composition” course standard, and increase the supervision of teaching.

We actively declared the teaching reform topic of Guangxi Education Department, set up the teaching reform group of “composition” course of furniture design and manufacturing, organized members to conduct extensive research on many domestic famous furniture enterprises and sister institutions of higher education, and fully understood the demand of furniture industry for professional ability and other institutions of higher education. On the premise of understanding the demand of furniture industry for vocational ability and the characteristics of “composition”, we revised the talent training program and “composition” course standard of furniture design and manufacturing. For example, in the process of developing the talent training program, we adjusted the “Composition” course, which was originally scheduled to be taught in the first semester of freshman year, to be taught in the first semester of sophomore year.

After learning the basic courses of hand-drawing, software and design theory in the first year, students can understand and absorb the “Composition” course more easily with certain modeling ability and theoretical foundation, and the quality of the finished works can be improved to a great extent, which greatly enhances students’ interest and confidence in learning composition knowledge.

In addition, we ask the director of the teaching and research department to supervise the teaching process of teachers to ensure that teachers can carry out the teaching of composition in strict accordance with the standard of the approved professional curriculum, to stop the single mode of teaching, and to ensure that they teach the relevant knowledge points of composition and the subsequent professional curriculum to closely connect the knowledge points.

(2) Increase the training of teachers’ teaching and practice ability.

On the one hand, the old teachers who have rich teaching experience and practical experience in furniture design should take up the teaching task of “composition” course, and the new teachers are required to go to the classroom of the old teachers to listen to and learn from them, so that they can understand and master the teaching ideas and methods of “composition” course in higher vocational colleges more quickly. The new teachers are required to attend and study in the classrooms of the veteran teachers so that they can understand and master the teaching ideas and methods of “composition” courses in higher education institutions more quickly, so that they can teach according to their own abilities.

On the other hand, we should make relevant policies to encourage young teachers to go to relevant departments of furniture enterprises for practical exercises in their spare time, and hire senior professional technicians, management experts and senior technicians with rich practical experience and special skills from furniture associations and furniture factories to train young teachers, so as to improve their ability in furniture design and production practice, and require them to add more “composition” teaching to their classes. In the teaching of “composition”, the proportion of design and comprehensive practical teaching is increased, so that students can be guided to connect and apply the composition knowledge points with the subsequent furniture design-related courses in the teaching process.   

(3) Based on the furniture design and manufacturing profession, compile more practical school-based teaching materials.

At present, most of the textbooks published in the market for “composition” course are more theoretical and less practical training, and there are not many cases of professional design applications. In order to strengthen the practicality of the textbook, we organized some excellent teachers to compile the school-based textbook of “Composition” course. In the preparation, we discarded some abstract and obscure theoretical knowledge and added a lot of hands-on training tasks according to the teaching characteristics of “competence as the goal and task as the carrier” in higher vocational institutions, which is more conducive to further improving students’ hands-on ability.

In addition, we have collected the most outstanding design cases of current furniture design in the school textbook. By guiding students to think about the relationship between composition knowledge and these actual cases, the teacher cultivates their ability to apply composition knowledge to furniture design in training practice and makes them clearer about the importance of learning composition knowledge for their future professional design work, thus greatly enhancing their interest and motivation in learning “composition”. The students’ interest and motivation in learning “composition” course are greatly enhanced.

(4) The introduction of computer-aided design software and 3D printing technology into the composition practice training session.

At present, the traditional composition practice training in various institutions is generally done by students manually, which is not only time-consuming and laborious, but also requires students to purchase a large amount of materials at their own expense, causing a large economic burden and easily causing students to resist. In order to solve this problem, we introduced computer-aided design software and 3D printing technology into the composition practice training session.

First of all, in the curriculum of furniture design and manufacturing students, we require them to master the basic operation knowledge of computer-aided design software such as Auto CAD, 3D MAX and Sketch Up in their freshman year, and innovatively introduce these auxiliary design software into the composition practice training session in their sophomore year, which not only greatly improves the efficiency of students in completing their works, but also As a result, not only did it greatly improve the students’ efficiency in completing their works, but also reduced their financial burden of purchasing materials.

In addition, since the design software is not limited by materials and processes in the modeling process, it also largely expands the students’ creative expression and helps to cultivate their creative abilities. Secondly, in order to further materialize the models designed virtually by the computer software, we also introduce advanced 3D printing technology into the composition model making process. The 3D printer can be used to print out the virtual models designed by the students using 3D software, so that they can truly observe and feel the effect of the three-dimensional models they designed.

In addition, we also exhibited some of the outstanding models as visual teaching achievements, which gave the exhibiting students a strong sense of honor and achievement and further enhanced their interest in the “Composition” course.

(5) Make full use of modern education information technology to develop online courses and establish a course resource library.

As the “2+1” talent training mode is commonly implemented in higher vocational colleges, all courses need to be taught within two years, which leads to a lot of reduction in the class time of some courses compared with the similar courses in undergraduate colleges. In terms of the “composition” course, some undergraduate institutions often arrange as much as 80 class hours, while the furniture design and manufacturing majors in higher vocational institutions can only arrange 48 class hours. Under the premise of extremely limited class time, it is difficult to achieve good teaching effect if the teachers cannot arrange the teaching schedule reasonably.

In order to solve the problem of less class time, we introduced modern education information technology in teaching, and recorded several important knowledge points of the “Composition” course into a micro lesson for students to watch and learn repeatedly before or after class. On the basis of this, we integrate the relevant courseware, classical cases, excellent composition works of teachers and students, practice questions and answers into a teaching resource library, and set up the “Composition” online course on the college website. Through this network course, students can learn composition-related knowledge at any time no matter where they are, which not only greatly improves their learning autonomy, but also alleviates the problem of teacher’s lecture time tension to a certain extent and achieves a better teaching effect.

Practice has proved that through years of teaching reform and exploration of the “composition” course of furniture design and manufacturing, the teaching effect has been significantly improved, and students’ innovation, aesthetics, modeling and design and hands-on ability have been significantly improved and enhanced.

We have repeatedly exhibited a large number of excellent student works that emerged during the teaching reform of “Composition” course in the whole college, and the response was enthusiastic and favorable. In addition, the “composition” course has laid a solid design foundation for students to study in subsequent professional courses.

Although we have achieved some results in the teaching reform of the “Composition” course of furniture design and manufacturing in our college, which can be used as reference for our peers, with the rapid development of furniture industry, the employment standards of furniture enterprises are also improving, and the teaching reform of related professions in higher vocational colleges must keep pace with the times and be optimized.

Therefore, in the future teaching reform practice, we know that we still need to continue to explore in order to cultivate more senior technical skill talents to meet the national industry development needs.