Grading a Design Course

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JOEL SCHINDALL: Our grading in the class is important, but it's done a little bit differently from the way an ordinary course is graded. In an ordinary course, there's a specific body of material, and so you can grade on proficiency.

Can the student solve second order differential equations? So you give them some second order differential equations on a problem set, and if they solve it, they get a good grade. And if they don't solve it, they wouldn't get as good a grade.

We're trying to teach a way of thinking and being innovative so we give them exercises and presentations, and then we grade them on the passion of their engagement.

Some of them have better presentation skills than others. We're not looking at an absolute mark, but we're saying, did you go outside the box? Did you try something new? Given where you were when you came into this course, did you increase your skill set effectively and energetically?

And if you do, that's a good grade in the course. And we actually give many-- many students get good grades in a course like this, because they've elected to take a course to enhance their capabilities. And that deserves a good grade.

The ones who don't get as good a grade are the ones who simply haven't participated as fully.

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