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honoria in ciberspazio

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Final Exam in Design Fundamentals - Critical Thinking and Collaboration Event
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Make our own exam? Isn't that your job teacher?  No, my job is to teach.

I have developed a system of teaching design fundamentals based on A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.

For each chapter of the textbook on the Principles and Elements of design students write questions.  Students are graded on question creation, not answers.  Students write two questions for each topic -- one easy question (such as a multiple choice, or true/false question) and one hard (essay) question each week.  I post the questions in a discussion board on our LMS -- Brightspace.  Below are the lists of questions from this term's class for the second half of the term, the Principles of Design.

I number the questions in Word with a few edits, and pass out the elements questions at mid-term and the principles questions for the final.  Thus students write their mid term and final exams based on actual questions in their minds.  This turns the exams into real critical thinking and collaboration events.

Instructions for student-created mid-term and final exams.

  1. Each student selects 5 potential questions to ask, and will ask one of these 5 of their peers.

  2. Each student will ask one question in an order they are seated around the room.

  3. Ask students to check their neighbor's lists so you don't have duplicate questions.

  4. You can not ask a question that has already been asked.

  5. The student who asks the question will stand and call upon three or more other students to answer the question.  Each question will have at least 3 different answers. Since this is a creative set of questions there are many examples that can be used to answer the questions.

  6. The student questioner is in charge of the room when they are standing and they will end the discussion of their question when they feel it has been answered to the full potential of the class.

  7. Multiple answers, discussions, alternate perspectives are welcome.

The exam discussion takes a bit over an hour for a 20 student class.  Timing may have to be adjusted depending on your class session.  My class period is 4 hours, so we can get into a deep discussion if the question is particularly engaging or challenging.

Students have a Questions Record sheet on which they record the question they asked and the best answers they received.
Students are required to answer at least 5 questions and record them on the Questions Record.
Toward the end of the discussion I announce that only people who have not answered the 5 required questions are to raise hands and that prompt seems to get everyone invioved including the non--volunteering students since the more vocal students have modeled a multiple answer pattern.

This discussion-exam based on student questions is student lead and is an empowering way to end the term.

I think your mid-term and final are awesome.  SO INTERACTIVE - the best part of the class.  Mind opening.  I love the way you keep your class thinking. Jason P.

The most useful thing I learned in the class is discussion because everyone has a different way of thinking.  Javeria T.

The most useful thing I learned is everything collectively and understanding it.  All of the design elements have their place and uses depending on what you are creating.  There is no objective "most useful" thing in my opinion.  It's all useful.  Laurie D.

I like this kind of final because it makes everyone think about their industry.  Angel D.


Student-Created Final Exam Questions based on Design Fundamentals readings and lectures. 

1.1.    How can the way someone speaks be repetition with variety?
1.2.    Why aren't repetition and varied repetition the same?
1.3.    What's the difference between repetition and continuation?
1.4.    How can repetition be used in a logo without the logo looking like it's overdone?
1.5.    When does proximity make a work seem cluttered and unorganized?
1.6.    How can using abstract art affect the Gestalt of a picture?
1.7.    How can you use Gestalt to add interest to your work of art?
1.8.    How can you illustrate the Gestalt of a game to the player without using words?
1.9.       How can a graphic designer use Gestalt in a logo?
1.10.    In your field, why would you create something abstract?
1.11.    How can you create abstract repetition?
1.12.    When using abstraction in a video game how does it affect the Gestalt?
1.13.    How would abstract art add or subtract the value of a logo?
1.14.    What is one trying to say when creating abstraction?
1.15.    How can a logo show continuation?
1.16.    How can figurative art be used in designs?
1.17.    There are so many different ways to show unity.  How do you decide which option to choose to best represent your idea if so many options work for the same thing?
2.       EMPHASIS
2.1.    How can emphasis affect a work of art or a design?
2.2.    How can whole-over-parts be expressed in sound and color?
2.3.    Why would whole-over-parts be something of importance with photography?
2.4.    Explain whole-over-parts as an element of emphasis.
2.5.    How can you use whole-over-parts in interior design?
2.6.    How would you use isolation in your field?
2.7.    How does isolation of an object affect the Gestalt of a video game or design?
2.8.    Can there be isolation with multiple things as the main focus?
2.9.    How can whole-over-parts be isolated?
2.10.    How can the placement of a logo be important to a company?
2.11.    How does one element play an important role in interior design?
2.12.    How is it possible to have more than one thing represent one element in an image or concept?
2.13.    When making a business logo, what are the key elements that would make it stand out?
2.14.    Why is art mostly culture in the world?
2.15.    Which element of design is best used to show emphasis?
2.16.    Is there a way to show visual hierarchy in graphic design?
2.17.    Explain how abstract art can have a focal point.
3.1.    If the player is bigger than the non-player character does the scale really matter?
3.2.    Why is proportion important in your industry?
3.3.    Explain the difference between internal reference and internal proportions.  Also how are these different from contrast in scale?
3.4.    When would you not want to use the same size ratio between different characters and objects in a video game?
3.5.    How can contrast of scale be interpreted in an abstract design or something with no focal point?
3.6.    How can you show surrealism in photography (or your industry) without using Photoshop?
3.7.    How can a logo be surrealistic and successful?
4 C''s
3.8.    How can the 4 C's (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity) fully apply to game design?
3.9.    How can I use symbolism in fashion?
3.10.What does art have to do with relationship?

4.1.    How can balance affect the terrain in game design?
4.2.    When would perfect symmetry with no differences be a bad thing?
4.3.    How could one design a 3-D asymmetrical logo?
4.4.    When would you not use symmetrical balance in a portrait?
4.5.    How would you use asymmetrical balance to produce horror themes?
4.6.    How do you show balance in chaos?
4.7.    How would a designer showcase value balance?
4.8.    Describe differences between balance in pattern and crystallographic balance.
4.9.    Using balance by eye (direction) how can you make the viewer not look at a certain part of an image or garment?
4.10.How can one achieve balance by eye direction?
4.11.How could you combine eye direction and color balance to create a good logo?
4.13.How can crystallographic balance exhibit visual rhythm?
4.14.Why would you use crystallographic balance in your field?
4.15.Why would radial balance be something that clients would be attracted to in your field?
5.       RHYTHM
5.1.    How would polyrhythmic structures look in a picture if the picture can not really move?
5.2.    What are the best uses of contrasting rhythms when you want to achieve value emphasis?
5.3.    How can a designer make both an alternating rhythm and a legato rhythm?
5.4.    How would you create staccato in a photo? Fashion?  Game design? Graphic Design?
5.5.    When is it necessary to use staccato in your field?
5.6.    Can you have legato and staccato at the same time?
5.7.    How is it possible to show visual rhythm more than one way in one piece of art?
5.8.    Explain how visual or audio rhythms follow specific patterns in art or life.
5.9.    Find an example of rhythm and motion in trompe l'oeil.
5.10.How does rhythmic motion affect your industry?
5.11.What is a good example of rhythm and motion in a logo?
5.12.How is rhythm and motion used together in interior design?
5.13.Can rhythm be unsynchronized?
5.14.How can synchronization of audio be used in video games?
5.15.When using rhythm with just colors, how would you produce certain Gestalts?
5.16.How do you portray audio rhythm in a picture?
5.17.Is there a case where rhythm is considered a bad thing and should be avoided?

Teacher Reflection
I am proud of my students' response to the challenges of open-ended thinking about design, design terminology, and ways to integrate new learning into career applications. The confidence that students exhibit in making their mid-term and final exams shows a shift from high-school patterns to adult learning and professional development.  This adult learning shift is key to student success. I am happy that I have been able to find teaching methods to help students learn to be professional learners while at the same time attain the course objectives.


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