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Unavoidable Biases In Design Education

I think it was always out there that design education can never truly be free from self-created biases between teachers & students or between peers.

As colleges try to objectify design education with well laid out rubrics and grading criteria, the basis of attaining the criteria still remain baseless to some extent. Design, as an educational field, cannot possibly be broken down into qualitative data such as other fields. There is no basis for the right answer. I mean, how can there be?

How can you ever judge compositional skill when theories of composition and existing work shown as examples invalidate each other? How can you truly assess the synthesis of research or the scope of research the student has undertaken without you having more knowledge than the student about the field?

Once students understand that there lies a grey area in design education, some are smart enough to drill through the criteria and fulfil things on paper even though they may not have actively been translated into the work. When this happens, the student is always able to navigate through the grading criteria and fulfil what is deemed as academic requirements which may not have an actual impact on the outcome.

There will always be a group of "good" students and a group of "bad" students which have been formed after repeated testing of the grading criteria. The "good" students know how to navigate through the chains of the grading criteria while the "bad" students fail to defend their work when pushed up against the same criteria. Even though the criteria may have been well met, it takes a little street-smart to show that it was all done.

I'm not saying any of this is wrong. It actually teaches students to be able to defend their work when scrutinised by the industry. But if students are able to defend this work just because of their heightened skill of defending, is the root of design education truly teaching students the right thing? Are we really assessing projects for projects or are we assessing projects for students?

I feel like every project must be free from all prior expectations and knowledge of a particular student. Each project must be free from these created biases and inclination towards certain students. This is why projects with a visiting faculty with no prior input about the students are able to form their own understanding and grade in an unbiased manner which often corresponds to the actual work itself. Yes, it is probably impossible because at the end, everyone is a human being and we can never not like what we like. However, this is probably the only way to remove biases in design education as much as humanly possible. A system where permanent faculties do not exist is somewhat speculative and, to an extent, stupid but it seems like a wonderful way to grade projects for projects which removes the student's need to baselessly bullshit through presentations & juries.

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