Walk through the process of project creation to meet learning outcomes, evaluation of success, and mapping outcomes to student learning.
Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
No matter your design school pedagogy, the need for
defined and executed assessment and student learning outcomes is important for
institutional and programmatic accreditation. This can seem a daunting task for
most educators, and particularly so for those teaching in creative disciplines.
When academics hear “assessment” and “learning outcomes” they often become
angry. This anger, is often fueled by fear that the “institution” is trying to
control classrooms, or worse, justify teaching positions and approaches.
Ultimately, these institutional measures have the best interests of the student
at heart. Done correctly, assessment and defined student learning outcomes help
to guide instructors to create and revise curriculum to meet student needs and
are flexible enough to allow for unique classroom experiences.
Assessment models favor a tiered approach to learning.
Typically, there are touch points throughout curriculum where student learning
outcomes are introduced, reinforced and mastered. Ideally, outcomes are not
addressed solely in one course, but built upon as the student learns and
progresses through the program. Once developed and implemented, these learning outcomes
can be assessed to evaluate where student learning could be improved, but also
can reinforce successes and program strengths. Additionally, program
assessments can serve as documentation to reinforce the
need for program funding to improve areas of weakness. Assessment documents can
serve as justification for improved facilities, software purchases or even
This case study walks through the process of project creation and implementation to meet course student learning outcomes, evaluation of student success regarding course outcomes, and mapping these outcomes to how program student learning outcomes are introduced, reinforced and mastered. Assessment of the project includes analyzing student course outcomes and progression of overall program student learning.
This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.1: Quinnipiac University on October 5, 2019.
Southern Connecticut State University
At Southern Connecticut State University, it has been observed that students pursuing a design degree are entering the program with a background dominated by a philosophy in which success equals providing a pre-defined, correct answer to a problem. This approach does not prepare students for a design process in which experimentation is paramount, as there is no singular correct answer to a given design problem.
The test-taking model of assessment assumes that information is disseminated by the instructor, retained by the student, and then recalled during a test. In this model, correct answers are consistent across submissions; it does not allow for the synthesis of something new, which is key to a successful design solution. Further, students in this process are often creatively crippled by fear of failure, as failure will negatively impact their final grade. Applying this philosophy of a singular correct answer, students are hesitant to embrace a process that encourages the exploration of ideas with multiple solutions.
While parameters guide a design project, end results are not measured against a pre-defined, correct design solution. In theory, each solution has the potential to be vastly different from another, yet still successful. Developing an assessment model that reinforces this process of experimentation with multiple solutions can be challenging for an instructor.
This presentation outlines a response to the perceived disconnect between the academic background of incoming students and the process required to achieve a successful design solution, utilizing an alternative project assessment model at Southern Connecticut State University. While this assessment model was applied in a limited context, positive results were immediately apparent and lasting; most notably, a marked increase in student experimentation with multiple solutions was observed.
This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.