Bob Bailey

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Expected Learning Outcomes – The Matrix


“You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth.”


Here are the expected learning outcomes (ELOs) for the T&L unit, with the corresponding marking criteria in brackets:


  1. Critically engage with policy, practices and scholarship relating to teaching and learning [subject knowledge; analysis]
  2. Evaluate your professional practice and plan for further development with reference to the dimensions of the UK PSF [personal and professional development]
  3. Communicate effectively with peers to support professional development [collaborative and/or independent professional working; communication and presentation]


The Band descriptors as used by UAL:


The session began by discussing, in small groups of no more than 5, the marking matrix to identity what we liked, understood, agreed with and their contras. The conversation was really engaging, debated well, respectful of each others practices. Our likes and dislikes can be summarised as follows:

What is wrong with these band descriptors?

  1. The difference between the descriptors for D/C, B and A is not always obvious.
  2. Some aspects of the standard descriptors will not apply to all assessed tasks.
  3. The descriptors for the F and E grades are rather unkind.
  4. In many cases, the descriptors for D/C expect a lot from students – could some be distributed to the B descriptor?
  5. No differentiation between D and C grades.
  6. The language used in the descriptors is confusing to understand – criteria need to be written succinctly and in plain English.
  7. When looking at and marking student’s work for communication and presentation (descriptor 6), the marker needs to be aware of the impact their own taste, cultural capital and judgement values can have; as well as their own subjectivity within the marking process more generally
  8. Learning outcomes and student self-assessment are not currently addressed within the matrix.
  9. As a group we were unsure whether this band descriptors had been co-created with students. We felt that it was important to work with students to agree on their interpretation.


Is there anything good about the band descriptors?

  1. Fairness for all students.
  2. Clear developmental progression between each band descriptor.
  3. Grid layout makes each descriptor to pan easily.
  4. The A descriptors are aspirational for high achieving students.


Part 2:  writing our own band descriptors

The second part of the session involved challenging the existing band descriptors by working in our group to write our own. Before the session I had had a go writing my own band descriptors as follows:


The discussions that we had during the exercise made me revisit my own prejudices and poor use of English language. I need to concentrate more on the different bands and what separates them (e.g. exceptional and excellent) to assess accurately and fairly and also consistently the students work against one another. I do find this already quite difficult in Design education.

Our group also mentioned other forms of Assessment that might be worthwhile to research:

  • The Double diamond Model

 4 ‘D’ stages of process: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. This model indicates that divergent and convergent thinking are needed throughout any creative process but emphasises that this cycle happens twice: once to confirm the definition of a problem and again to create the solution. Although presented linearly, it focuses on how different criteria and teaching methods need to be chosen and applied at different stages in the creative or design process (Designed by The Design Council, 2005).

  • Constructive alignment

Assessment, learning outcomes, marking criteria, the students’ preconceived expectations and a course’s aims are all aligned (Biggs and Tang, 2011).

  • Ipsative assessment

Students set their own learning goals; their work is assessed holistically on previous work rather than against set criteria. For me, this form of assessment treats the student as a whole person and privileges their own personal knowledge and experiences (Hooks, B. 1994). Ipsative assessment means an assessor makes comparisons with a student’s previous work to record progress and this enables learners from all backgrounds to achieve an academic ‘personal best’. This is widely quoted as an under-used approach as it requires a radical rethink of years of tradition assessing. It is especially useful and energising for students with low self-esteem, mental health issues, shyness, Dyslexia etc.



Freire, P. (2017) Pedagogy of the oppressed. London Penguin Classics

Aoun, J. (2017) A learning model for the future in: Robot-proof: higher education in the age of artificial intelligence. Cambridge,  MIT Press (p 45-75)

Accardi, M. T. (2013) Feminist pedagogy for library instruction. Sacramento, California Library Juice Press.

Hooks, B. (1994) Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. London Routledge.

Biggs, J. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment,  Higher Education, (p342-364)

UAL (2016) Tutorial policy. London: University of the Arts London. [online]. 



some matrixes done during the session, showing Peer comments then agreements +/-




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