Assessing Design through Assessment Buddies

Brian Anthony Clough, Jane Osmond

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    This paper discusses the impact of ‘Assessment Buddies’, a specially developed assessment and feedback system implemented within a second year industrial design module at Coventry University, UK. The system was developed in response to the need for a successful assessment and feedback system that could cope with the complexities of a creative subject, and also in response to the need to address student dissatisfaction with assessment and feedback as evidenced by the regular UK National Student Survey. The findings from student focus groups and questionnaires show that the Assessment Buddy system offers the opportunity for a more flexible approach to the assessment of creative subjects and also speaks to best practice as outlined in the NSS Student Charter. At the time of writing the Assessment Buddy system is embedded in the second year assessment procedures for the automotive design course, and is being introduced into Year 3, with plans for Year 4 to follow.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Bibliographical note

    This paper has been published in vol.3 of the DRS proceedings pg 1409+. The full volume can be access ed for free from whole of the proceedings from volumes 1-4 are freely available to download from the Design Research Society website. This paper was given at the Design Research Society 2012 International Conference (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok,Thailand) 1-4th July 2012. Author's note:The paper describes a method of assessment (Assessment Buddies) devised to address a number of problems associated with creative disciplines. These include the tendency of design students to take on board only summative feedback (numerical marks) without paying attention to formative feedback (guidance instructions intended to help them address shortcomings and to improve). The importance of formative feedback in creative subjects is examined by Davies (2003). The Feedback Buddy method overcomes the latency of other assessment methods by supplying instant written feedback on the day. The use of buddies allows the staff to give their undivided attention since they are freed from note-taking.
    Students also receive the complete audio ‘formative feedback’ file a couple of days later to listen to at their leisure away from the pressure of the crit, addressing the problem of feedback ‘falling on deaf ears’ identified by Blair (2006). Audio feedback includes the tone of voice so that the student can understand the context of the comments (written constructive criticism can be interpreted negatively whereas spoken words carry the sense).
    Summative marks are supplied a week or so after the Audio files so that students have time to understand how the mark was generated before they receive the number. The Assessment Buddy method is particularly significant in that it directly addresses a requirement of the NUS (2011) Charter on Feedback and Assessment. Assessment Buddies is a system created and developed in the Industrial Design Department at Coventry School of Art and Design. Originally trialled with 2nd years it is now being rolled out to other years of the course.


    • action research
    • industrial design
    • curriculum development assessment


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