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Design Year Fun: Assessment Carnival

One of the key elements of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching & Learning is examining and creating effective forms of assessments, both for master’s candidates and the students they will teach. Leading that effort is Courtney Castle, the new Senior Assessment Designer at the WW Graduate School. Recently, Dr. Castle and Design Fellow Doyung Lee put on an assessment carnival as a way for the group to collaboratively establish some standards for assessment. For the activities, they focused on ways to measure mastery of the specific WW Graduate School competency of design thinking.

“The carnival was a way to get the Graduate School staff and Design Fellows to start thinking about what competency in design thinking actually looks like,” says Dr. Castle.

The WW Graduate School Design Fellows have been exploring ways to incorporate elements of fun and play in the curriculum design. Dr. Castle and Mr. Lee hoped that a carnival theme would bring those explorations into practice.

“Staff and Design Fellows wrote down observations about assessment design materials on raffle tickets and won prizes, went ‘fishing’ for evidence of design thinking in our Google Doc Pond, and took a ride on the ‘Ferris wheel’ where they reflected on their growth as designers this past year,” explains Dr. Castle. By discovering and analyzing these elements in a different way, Design Fellows and staff were able to get their creative juices flowing as they thought about how best to measure success when designing.

“At the end of the day, we together wrote up a list of standards for good design thinking—these will form the basis of a rubric that will be used to evaluate the Design Fellows’ portfolio of design work from the year,” says Dr. Castle. “One of our principles is transparency in assessment, and by engaging both Design Fellows and staff in establishing criteria for a portfolio assessment, we’re hoping to implement a model of assessment that highlights student voice and self-assessment as essential components.”

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