Category Archives: grading

literate design – The structure and meaning of the text

Recently a senior design student stated that he was unaware that his design projects were being graded both on content and on form—the he assumed that the actual verbal content did not matter. After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I tried to explain that we have always taken the position that design is essentially about problem-solving. And visual communication design involves knowing what it is that one is communicating.

In many conversations with art directors in researching an upcoming textbook, many have indicated that they are looking for someone with strong verbal, organizational, and visual skills. Writing is a vital component of both multimedia and graphic communications. Lance Rutter (of Tanagram, Chicago) underscored that a few weeks ago in saying he was interested in “literate” designers.

True, most production work requires that the designer merely follow the given copy; however anything higher and more creative—especially where the designer expects to be a participant in the decision-making process—requires that the designer pay attention to the connection of word and image in service of solving the design problem.

Four-year design programs, such as the one at Bradley aim to turn out thinking designers who have the potential to be art directors or creative directors, or heads of design firms. Highest marks go to those who creatively solve problems. Graphic designers work with words every day; and many hours are spent adjusting spacing, hierarchy, placement, etc, so the design reinforces the structure and meaning of the text.

Evaluating group projects (3 musketeers approach)

Group projects are a good learning experience for advanced students. They invariably generate some tense moments as some team members feel the work and credit are not shared equally. I insist, however on giving the entire group the same grade. The rationale for this is that in many situations, individuals have to learn to work together for the common good. Part of learning to be successful professionally is learning how to deal with people; how to negotiate, how to be assertive without alienating others, how to accept compromise, and how to deal with irrational people (you will certainly encounter plenty of irrational clients). While the outcome is never certain, the saving grace is that such group situations are temporary.

One student approached me before grades were given out on a group project and wanted me to konw that he/she was largely responsible for the work done an the project, and the other team member did not pull his/her weigth. I thanked the student reiterated that it did make any diffference in the grading. It turned out that that projct was one of the higest-rated ones by the professional critquers. Upon reflection, it occured to me, that that kind of group disloyalty is never apprecatiaed and in most cases reflects negatively on the person airing those sentiments.

In short, the most professional approach is to show as few cracks as possible in the group facade. You may vow never to work wtih said individual again; but while the group is working, it the duty of every member to do what is necessay to make it a success. Cajole, encourage, shae, persuade the others to do their part, but alimately, the entire group in in the same boat. Exert leadership if it is necessary, take up the slack if necessary, but the show goes on.