What is it about?

The traditional discretionary academic grading system was replaced in eight units of a university design course with a combination of pass/fail grading, rich feedback and a reinvigorated studio learning environment. The changes sought to better focus students on their creative process and improve their awareness of their acquisition of attributes, skills and knowledge along the path to becoming work-ready graduates.

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Why is it important?

The traditional studio model of graphic design education is focused on immersion in practice, imagining young designers acquiring design skills by working alongside discipline experts and their peers. However, this model of Australian design education in 2023 now operates with severe constraints – tightly scheduled classes with reduced contact hours and standardized learning and assessment practices that limit students’ creative development. Students' frequent fixation on grades as indicators of success may also hinder their creativity. We removed grades to recharge students’ flagging creative development within the constraints of a tertiary education system we could not change. This paper provides insights into the rationale and implementation process for a major assessment innovation within tertiary design education. The primary objective of the ‘Assessment for Learning’ initiative was for a better alignment of learning opportunities, assessment and feedback to develop students’ confidence in their design process, enabling them to translate feedback into responsive action, making grades unnecessary.


Working on this project has been a career highlight for me. Being a veteran educator/designer, creativity is one of the most important skills and personal qualities a designer can have, ensuring career longevity. Creating a system that fosters the development of creativity in our students has been a very rewarding experience.

Andrew Haig
Swinburne University of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Designing pedagogical change: Fostering creativity in communication design education by removing grades, Journal of Design Business & Society, March 2022, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/dbs_00046_1.
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