Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Instructor:  Multiple instructors (submitted by Dan Boyarski)
  Project-based courses, School of Design, College of Fine Arts
Assessment Tool:
  Process Books for Assessing How Students Think About Design


Design is largely a process-oriented field, but project-based design courses have not used any formal method to assess a student’s design process. Although the final version of a project is assessed in a group critique forum, faculty wanted to develop a formal means of assessing how a student approached and worked on a design project.


Students in project-based design courses keep process books in which they describe and reflect on their progress on projects throughout the semester.


The process books have helped faculty assess more directly how students think about design, which can be more revealing about students’ learning than the final portfolios. Faculty often refer to these process books in conversations with students about their progress on projects.


Employers who are interested in recruiting design majors often ask students for their process books. Sometimes employers are more interested in seeing students’ process books than final portfolios.

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