Sunday, February 17, 2008

First Major Assignment (Aka Rosie Learns How to Grade)

My Communication Design Fundamental students turned in their first major assignment last week and I just now finished my grading. Grading is confusing enough when you're a TA (do you have the authority to be harsh? Are you the good cop/bad cop?) but more daunting when you're grading on your own for the first time. Am I too harsh? Is this fair? How much will they care or compare? And I too easy?

As I design student, I only cared about grades for the first semester or so- afterwards I quickly realized grades don't matter and it was more the quality of my work/portfolio and how I present myself. However, that is not the case with non-majors, especially non-majors that have not taken this sort of course before. I'm expecting some responses and some concern from students- but we'll see.

Their assignment was to visually interpret the definition of a pair of words randomly assigned to them, using only letterforms or punctuation as illustration. The words were roughly opposite verbs, such as dodge/confront or clap/hiss.

In order to combat grading arguments, I presented them with a rubric beforehand, clearly telling them what I would be looking at and grading on their final work. The five main categories were: quantity/quality of process, use of letterforms/punctuation, conveys word meaning (we focused on showing the action of the word, not the noun definition), composition (of individual and the two designs combined), and typeface selection(s). Being a product of Carnegie Mellon Design, they received a process and an overall grade. For this assignmnet I didn't include the process grade in their overall grade but they could clearly see that a lack of process in the future will really bring down an otherwise great piece.

Below are some examples from the class. Remember- this is the first design class for many of these students and the majority of them are using Illustrator (or using it more thoroughly) for the first time. Since the class only meets for 1 hour and 20 minutes twice a week and we have 18 students in the class, we didn't have time to focus on the two compositions together- so some of the examples are only one of the student's two designs.

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