Developing Design Curriculum Assessment Goals and Student Learning Outcomes; A Case Study: Typography

Walk through the process of project creation to meet learning outcomes, evaluation of success, and mapping outcomes to student learning.

Andrea Hempstead
Assistant Professor
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 faculty lines.

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.

Devising Design Projects: From Conception to Deployment

Design Incubation invites educators, students and professional designers for a conversation focused on the creation of design projects, assignments and syllabi.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Type Directors Club
347 West 36th Street
Suite 603
New York, NY 10018

The development of design projects and course plans is being conducted in increasingly complex educational environments requiring a more sophisticated set of thoughtful and negotiated responses. Educators work to devise projects that will best serve students, the discipline and the profession. Once complete they then have to decide how and when these materials should be revised and updated. We must weigh our responsibility to be innovative and experimental against the need to be pragmatic and mindful of concerns such as job readiness and technological competencies. Design Incubation invites educators, students and professional designers to join us and a panel of experienced design educators for a lively and informative conversation focused on the myriad considerations that come into play during the creation design projects, assignments and syllabi and the thorny issues associated with their development and distribution.

The conversation will be moderated by Aaris Sherin, Professor of Design at St. John’s University and Liz Deluna, Associate Professor of Design at St. John’s University.

Ned Drew
Professor, Graphic Design Coordinator
Rutgers University-Newark

Co-editor, Design Education in Progress: Process and Methodology, Volumes 1, 2 and 3

Alex Girard
Assistant Professor Graphic Design
Southern Connecticut State University

Debbie Millman
Host, Design Matters
Chair, Masters in Branding
School of Visual Arts

Scott Santoro
Adjunct Professor
Pratt Institute

 Guide to Graphic Design



Ned Drew

Drew was a member of the AIGA’s DEC Steering Committee and is the Director of The Design Consortium, a student/teacher design studio. Drew was the co-editor of Design Education in Progress: Volumes 1, 2 and 3 and co-author of BY ITS COVER, Purity of Aim: The Book Jacket Designs of Alvin Lustig and George Giusti: The Idea is the Heart of the Matter.

Drew work has been included in Typographic Design: Form and Communication, Graphic Design Referenced, US Design 1975-2000, Working with Computer Type, the AIGA’s Rethinking Design 3: Speaking Volumes, Graphic Design Solutions and Color Management.Drew’s work has also been recognized by the AIGA, the TDC, the IDA, the Art Directors Club, Creativity, the FPO Awards, the UCDA and the AAM as well as Graphis, CA, Print and How magazines.

Ned Drew heads the Graphic Design area at Rutgers University-Newark where he teaches design and design history courses.

Alexander Girard

Alex Girard is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Southern Connecticut State University. At SCSU, he serves as the Graphic Design program lead for the Art Department. Girard’s experience includes graphic design, web design, social media management, marketing and organizational leadership. He received a BA from the University of Northern Iowa, where he studied Graphic Design and Painting in 2004 and a MFA in Graphic Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007. While at RIT, his research focused on using principles of graphic design to deconstruct, evaluate and reconstruct methods for developing organizational structures within a collaborative problem-solving environment. Girard continues this research and works to identify intersections between industry and academia that allow his students to engage with curriculum in collaborative, authentic, and meaningful ways.

Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is Co-Founder and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is also President of the design division at Sterling Brands where she has worked on the redesign of over 200 global brands, including projects with P&G, Colgate, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi. Millman has authored six books on branding and an in 2005 she began hosting “Design Matters” the first podcast about design on the Internet. In 2011, the show was awarded a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. Millman currently serves on the board member of The Type Director’s Club (TDC) and is President Emeritus of AIGA.

Scott Santoro

Scott W. Santoro is an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, teaching graphic design there for over 20 years. He is the author and designer of “Guide to Graphic Design,” published by Pearson Education, which was recently translated into both Chinese and Arabic. Scott has served as a Fulbright judge for the program’s review of student design applications, and for Sappi Paper’s “Ideas that Matter” design grant. He was both a symposium presenter and design judge for the Brno International poster biennial in the Czech Republic, and speaker for the Australian Graphic Design Association’s seven city chapters. Scott received his BFA in graphic design from Pratt Institute, and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His studio, Worksight, is a noticeable entity among New York City design firms.

Experiments in Building Empathy and Revealing Bias

Rebecca Mushtare
Associate Professor Of Web Design & Multimedia
State University Of New York At Oswego

When left to our own devices, we unconsciously design for the audience we know best—ourselves. Although some traditional-aged college students have had travel opportunities or exposure to diverse cultures and communities, most still have limited life experience, which magnifies this tendency.  If inclusivity is an ethic we want our students to adopt as professionals,  we need to do more than read and talk about empathy and bias in the classroom. These values need to be embedded in our curriculum including how we frame assignments, the way we talk about design during critique, and our evaluation systems.

Overhauling an entire curriculum, or even a course, and starting from scratch is likely not an option for most faculty. Additionally, teaching empathy and implicit bias can be overwhelming for faculty who have not been trained,  and therefore do not have the language to confidently speak on the subject. What we can do, though, is make incremental changes in our classrooms that focus on raising awareness of assumptions we make and how our choices impact our audiences. Small changes can have real impact.

In this session, I will share the successes, failures and limitations of four years of experimentation and tinkering in the courses I teach combined with my own journey to become more aware of my blindspots and biases.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.