Successful learning through assessment design



Design Education Strategy


  • individualism, project-based teaching


  • How do we clarify to the student what good performance is?
  • How do we feedback in a way that encourages students to take action to address their individual learning styles?
  • How do we facilitate the development of self assessment and reflection in relation to learning?

Assessment design and feedback are powerful tools in the support of worthwhile learning and in motivating students for future learning.

Academic staff in the School of Design at Northumbria University have some confidence that subject teaching promotes deep approaches to learning, through practice, in a studio culture which encourages frequent, informal feedback between tutor and student.

However, when staff perceptions of assessment as a means of developing students learning were compared to student perceptions, we recognized that there were some significant gaps which were having a negative effect on the students ability to view assessment as supportive and worthwhile. For example, students found it necessary to search out hidden assessment requirements – not what was published as requirements and criteria but the ‘clues’ they felt they had to find out if they wanted to succeed and to be rewarded in the assessment system.

Studio, project based teaching (which most staff consider to be an ideal learning forum) appeared to generate a teacher based focus rather than the learner based focus we hope to promote in the School

The challenge of communicating and aligning tutor expectations of assessment as a learning tool to students (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004-2005) became the focus of assessment workshops designed to identify and share learning and teaching practices that effectively align the relationship between learning outcomes and assessment criteria, to best support the needs of diverse students. This revealing exercise helped identify key areas of focus in order to maximise student understanding of assessment and engagement as reflective learners.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (