Developing Experience Designers
Categorized: People : Learning
March 26, 2020

Mastery Rules: One Point Rubrics for Design Education

I learned a lot about learning when I studied Communication Design at Texas Tech University in the late 1990s. A few lessons stick out in my mind.

  • Most learning happens during critique: You learn what’s working and what’s not working via discussion. (If the instructor is good, you’ll learn why your design works and doesn’t work.)
  • Nobody knows how the final project grade is derived or what it means: The final project grade consists of a letter and sometimes a plus or minus written on the back of the work. How this was calculated is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

When I started teaching design as a graduate student at the University of North Texas (UNT), I became responsible for holding the aforementioned mystery of the universe. I was now the one facilitating critiques and evaluating work. Was I worthy to wield the Le Pen of fate and mark my own letters and plusses or minuses on students’ work?

Clarity. Transparency. Better Learning.

At UNT, I fell in love with writing learning objectives—writing really good learning objectives. These are learning objectives that could actually be measured. I learned to avoid using words like “understand.”

  • Understand what comprises a clearly-ordered typographic hierarchy

How am I supposed to evaluate “understand”? I can’t look into students’ minds and know if they understand! I applied my love of language to create learning objectives that were clear and could be evaluated. I started to use words like…

  • Create a clearly-ordered typographic hierarchy
  • Write a paragraph that clearly describes the importance of typographic hierarchy

I started writing learning objectives so students could know exactly what I was looking for. Learning objectives revolutionized the way I designed learning. You may be reading this thinking, “Dennis, learning objectives are nothing new,”… but they were new to me, and they were a game-changer.

Making the Rules of the “Game:” Point Values and Grading Quality

Learning objectives made my expectations clear, but the next step was to define levels of quality. I needed to define how many points a student would earn for each learning outcome, based on their level of performance.

Simply, I needed to make the game.

After years of teaching at Miami University, I arrived at words that defined levels of achievement that were clear. I tinkered with how many points each performance level was worth. I experimented with weighting grades. The conclusion was a set of six achievement levels whose descriptions were clear and simple. I concluded that mastery was my goal for students. If they could achieve mastery of each learning outcome, that would be a great accomplishment and something they could be proud of.

Here’s how they appear in my syllabi.

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Grading System

This course uses a letter grade mode. The final grade for this course will be factored into your cumulative GPA.

Learning Objectives and Grading

Every graded activity in this course will have a set of learning objectives. Some activities will have many learning objectives and some will have only a few. If you want to know what to focus on when completing an activity, look closely at the outcomes. Learners’ performance on each objective will be evaluated and a score will be given for the achievement level achieved.

A maximum of 5 points may be earned for each objective. These achievement levels include:

extraordinary performance
full competency
approaching competency
basic execution
missing assigned elements
no apparent attempt
5 pts 4.5 pts 4 pts 3.5 pts 3 pts 0 pts

Grading Examples

The following examples demonstrate how performance on learning objectives are evaluated and how points are awarded.

Learning Objective Work Example Evaluation Earned Points Earned
Demonstrate careful attention to detailed execution. Layout grid was unclear, typos in writing, mounting was not straight Beginning 3.5 pts
Produce the required number and frequency of comments over the discussion session period. Three posts were required but the learner posted five comments over the course of three days. Exemplary 5 pts
Work collegially and collaboratively during the project process. In a group project, team members gave feedback that the individual was great to work with and did everything they were assigned to do on-time. Mastery 4.5 pts
Demonstrate observation skills that render detailed, high-fidelity field notes. Field notes were not included in the final report. Missing 0 pts
Create a clear information hierarchy using typographic styling and sizing. A mix of sizes, bold, and italics was used to create a usable and understandable hierarchy. Mastery 4.5 pts

All earned points for objectives are added together and divided by the total points possible for the activity. This number is multiplied by 100 to produce the earned percentage grade for the activity. The calculation below uses the four above objectives as an example:

Total Earned Points Total Possible Points As Percentage
17.5 pts divided by 25 pts x 100 = 70%

Converting to Letter Grades

All percentage grades relate to a letter grade that will be the final grade for the course. The standard Miami University grade scale is shown below.

A+ 100–97 B+ 89–87 C+ 79–77 D+ 69–67 F 60-0
A 96-94 B 86–84 C 76–74 D 66–64
A- 93–90 B- 83–80 C- 73–70 D- 63–61

Final grades are recorded to the hundredths place and will be rounded to the nearest whole number before a letter grade is recorded. A “5” in the tenths or hundredths place will be rounded up. Example: 91.5% will be rounded up to 92. 91.4% will remain 91. 91.45% will be rounded up to 92.

Details about grading are available at the Office of the University Registrar: Grades web page.

Mastery is hard. “Full competency” is something worth celebrating. When I evaluate students’ work at developing or beginning levels, I remind them that mastering some skills can often take years of effort. Achieving an exemplary level of performance is rare.

Setting the Standards

The points were set. Now I needed to give learners an idea of what each achievement level looked like—I needed to make them more tangible. In design, our projects and assignments can vary widely. Learners are sometimes required to conduct field research, create a mood board, and deliver a presentation, all in the same project. I created guidelines for general types of activities that are often completed over the course of a semester. Here’s an excerpt from my syllabi that details achievement levels in these areas.

Assessment and Performance Guidelines

The following chart helps define performance evaluation levels for the most common activities in this program. Use this chart to better understand performance expectations.


The ability to effectively develop and communicate content or ideas.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Complex concepts are elegantly communicated via unexpected and surprising content combinations; concepts are emotionally and intellectually invigorating; conceptual content is challenging, insightful, and understandable Complex concepts are clearly communicated; concepts are emotionally and intellectually challenging; conceptual content is challenging, deep, and understandable Basic concepts are clearly communicated; concepts spark intended thinking and feelings; conceptual content is understandable and sometimes deep
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Basic concepts are not always communicated well; conceptual content is understandable but not surprising or unique Basic concepts are not communicated effectively; conceptual content is understandable on a basic level No apparent attempt to develop a unique concept


The ability to identify unexpected similarities and alignments.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Makes surprising and insightful connections between different ideas/concepts; makes complex and unexpected combinations easier to understand in ways that help others grasp the content; advances understanding of the content Makes connections between different ideas/concepts in unexpected ways; makes complex combinations easier to understand in ways that help others grasp the content Makes some connections between different ideas/concepts; makes combinations easier to understand in ways that help others grasp the content
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Makes few connections between similar ideas/concepts; some combinations remain difficult to understand due to inconsistent communication/effort Makes no connections between ideas/concepts but simply reports things as they are; any combinations made feel forced and “stuck together” instead of integrated No apparent effort to connect different concepts

Consider Complexity

The ability to examine highly complex scenarios, ideas, and systems.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Demonstrates thinking about how intended and unintended stakeholders/audiences will be affected; real and perceived matters are addressed in thoughtful detail; concepts from many disciplines are combined to create a clearer view of the concept being addressed Demonstrates thinking about how intended stakeholders/audiences will be affected and suggests that unintended issues may have been considered; real and perceived matters are addressed; concepts from several disciplines are combined to create a clearer view of the concept being addressed Demonstrates thinking about how only intended stakeholders/audiences will be affected; perception is ignored and only direct issues are addressed; concepts from design-related disciplines are combined to explore the concept being addressed
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Demonstrates limited thinking about how intended stakeholders/audiences will be affected; direct issues are addressed at a basic level; concepts from only art and graphic design are applied to the concept being addressed Demonstrates cursory thinking about effects of design; issues are basically addressed or even ignored; personal style and wants are applied to the concept being addressed, ignoring the larger context that surrounds the issue No apparent effort to think and work beyond the surface level


The ability to execute with precisely, considering even the smallest aspects.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Every detail is addressed with considerate, deliberate, thoughtful attention; unexpected details are addressed to elevate the quality of the work; no part of the work lacks attention Every detail is addressed and expertly executed; some unexpected details are addressed to elevate the quality of the work; no part of the work lacks attention Most details are addressed and well-executed; every “expected” detail is addressed, though there are no surprises; a few parts of the work lack attention
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Some details are addressed and well-executed but some have been ignored; even some “expected” details are missed; many parts of the work lack attention Many details were missed and these hurt the overall quality of the work; missed details distract viewers; a lack of attention is apparent Work is sloppy, seems rushed, and is ill-formed


The ability to discuss with others.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Always participates in discussions; facilitates deeper discussion with insightful and eloquent responses; elevates discussion and helps others improve their work; self-driven and needs no prompting Always participates in discussions; facilitates deeper discussion with thoughtful responses; comments help others improve their work; needs no prompting to participate Typically participates in discussions; responses add some insights the discussion; comments sometimes not helpful for others; sometimes has to be prompted to participate
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Doesn’t always participate in discussions; responses do not illuminate the conversation; comments do little to help others; has to be prompted to participate or improve responses Seldom participates in discussions; responses do not add to the conversation; responses often include “I like that” or “that’s nice”; will not participate unless called upon Makes no effort to participate


The ability to effectively record and communicate one’s own work processes.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
All steps and processes are clearly documented in extreme detail; thinking, research, and design are documented so readers can understand the learner’s strengths and innovative approaches All steps and processes are clearly documented; thinking, research, and design are all well-documented and reveal the learner’s abilities Most steps and processes are clearly documented; thinking, research, and design are documented but do not always demonstrate a clear development process
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Steps and processes are sporadically documented and are sometimes missing details; thinking, research, and design portions of the process aren’t always clearly demonstrated Steps and processes are often missing and documentation feels “thrown together”; thinking, research, and design portions of the process don’t seem to be valued No documentation effort is apparent

Exams and Quizzes

The ability to demonstrate knowledge.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Learner knows the content, understands what it means, and can apply it in unexpected ways demonstrating advanced thinking Learner knows the content, understands what it means, and can apply it appropriately Learner knows most of the content, understands some of what it means, and can often apply it appropriately
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Learner knows some of the content, doesn’t always know what it means, and misapplies concepts Learner does not know the content, doesn’t know what it means, and can not apply it No effort to learn the material is apparent


The ability to organize concepts in logical order.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Content is expertly organized into clear groupings; no element is “unrelated” or left behind; hierarchical structure brings harmony to the whole piece; hierarchy “gets out of the way” so content comes through effortlessly Content is clearly organized; no element is “unrelated” or left behind; users can easily discern the hierarchical structure; hierarchy “gets out of the way” so content comes through effortlessly Content is well organized but some content feels out of place; some elements are “unrelated” or “floating”; users can discern the hierarchical structure; hierarchy requires a “second look” or “re-reading” to understand content
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Some content feels out of place and needs to be reorganized; many elements are “unrelated” and seem to be “left over”; users have to work to understand the hierarchical structure; hierarchy requires a “second look” or “re-reading” to understand how to use the content No clear structure to the piece and content feels “thrown together”; users give up when trying to understand the hierarchical structure; hierarchy makes the piece frustrating No clear organization of visual or written content


The ability to work iteratively.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Many rounds of revisions in a wide range of directions; revisions build on previous versions as a “stream” of thinking; a desire to explore and experiment is apparent; learner drives their own process Many rounds of revisions; revisions build on previous versions in a logical order; willingness to explore is apparent; learner drives their own process Several rounds of revisions; revisions sometimes logically build on previous versions; exploration is limited to “expected” or “safe” directions; learner requires help to drive the process
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Only one or two rounds of revisions; revisions are sporadic and don’t build on previous versions; exploration is limited, usually just following current trends; learner relies on instructor for direction One round of revisions only because they are assigned; revisions are spotty, unrelated, sometimes not related; very little exploration and work feels like “going through the motions”; learner does not demonstrate they can evaluate their own work No revisions apparent

Media Exploration

The ability to try and combine different media.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Explores, masters, and implements challenging and unexpected media into work Investigates and implements a wide range of media into work Implements expected, “safe” media into work
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Uses only “expected” media to produce work; media selections based on personal preference Media selection made because instructed to do so by instructor; lack of original application Media not considered a valuable part of design


The ability to create novel ideas and outcomes.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Unexpected and innovative outcomes; imaginative; integrates many disparate and unconventional concepts and influences Novel and engaging outcomes; integrates a few disparate concepts and influences Expected and “normal” outcomes; integrates a few expected concepts and influences
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Basic outcomes that have been tried before; integrates no new concepts and/or influences Uneven outcomes that mimic the work of others; integrates no new concepts and/or influences No evidence of original thought or attempt to create novel outcomes


The ability to systematically conduct inquiry to produce discoveries.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Produces many types of strong evidence to support design decisions; reveals unexpected opportunities for innovation; a wide range of methods are applied; content is exhaustively researched Produces evidence to support design decisions/relevant creative precedents; suggests innovative directions; several methods are applied; content is deeply researched Produces circumstantial evidence to support design decisions; no innovative outcomes, just facts; a limited number of methods are applied; content is adequately researched, but some content is not covered
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Produces weak evidence that barely supports design decisions; one or two methods are applied producing weak results; content is researched at a surface level, leaving many concepts untouched Research does not influence any design decisions or research results are ignored; only one method is applied producing one-sided results; key content for the subject goes unaddressed No research; student does whatever they want, ignoring evidence/creative precedents


The ability to work effectively without direct supervision.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Makes decisions about work independently and adjusts without direction; manages the process by planning own deadlines Makes decisions about work independently; manages the process by planning and working ahead of given deadlines Makes decisions about work with help from others; works right up to deadlines
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Works independently but requires direction from others; completes work just before the deadline, sometimes resulting in incomplete work Seeks guidance from the internet for inspiration; requires direction and approval from faculty in order to progress; work is often rushed and incomplete due to lack of planning Work not completed and/or not on time


The ability to create and identify thematically cohesive outcomes.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Clear, cohesive, intentional style that elevates the work as unique, distinct, and memorable Clear, cohesive, intentional style that matches the work intent Inconsistent style whose parts sometimes mismatched; inconsistent with the work’s intent
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Uneven style whose elements are not in harmony; misses the work’s intent; personal style desires override sound design decisions Ignores the intent of the design and style is driven by personal desires; complete mismatch between style and product purpose No styling attempted or able to be perceived


The ability to use tools effectively.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Seeks out, explores, and masters advanced tool functions; combines tools in unexpected ways Uses advanced tool functions addressed in class; combines tool usage Uses basic tool functions and misuses some advanced functions; attempts some tool combinations
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Misuses basic tool functions; no attempt at combining tools Misses opportunities to use appropriate tools; ignores or is unaware of basic usage Tools not used or incorrect tools used

Version: Low Fidelity

The ability to develop basic prototypes.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Extremely detailed, precise initial conceptual thinking; progression toward next prototype step is clear; no production questions have gone unanswered; inspired and efficient use of prototyping materials and tools Finely detailed and clear initial conceptual thinking; progression toward next prototype step is clear; leaves few production questions unanswered; appropriate and efficient use of prototyping materials and tools Rough details make initial conceptual thinking difficult to understand; many possible steps for next prototype; leaves many production questions unanswered; inefficient use of prototyping materials and tools
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Initial conceptual thinking is difficult to grasp due to lack of details and development; hard to know what steps are appropriate without more work; production cannot move forward; ineffective use of prototyping materials and tools Incomplete prototype/shoddy work makes it difficult to discern a concept; more work is needed before next steps can be taken Work not turned in

Version: High Fidelity

The ability to develop well-formed prototypes.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Functional and formal details have been addressed in extreme detail; based on this prototype, ready to carry out final steps; quality on-level with leading practitioners in the field All functional and formal details have been addressed; based on this prototype, ready to carry out final steps; quality on-level with practice standards Most functional and formal details have been addressed, but some details need to be addressed; prototype needs more refinement before moving forward with confidence; quality that of an adequate class project
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Many functional and formal details are missing, making next steps hard to discuss; prototype needs redevelopment before moving forward with confidence; quality not indicative of advanced study Functional and formal details are ill-defined, missing, or unaddressed; prototype needs to be completed or completely reworked before next steps can be discussed; incomplete work Work not turned in


The ability to care for oneself.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Emotional and physical wellness are optimized and shows strengthening; no negative impacts on personal or professional well-being Emotional and physical wellness are prioritized; no negative impacts on personal or professional well-being Emotional and physical wellness show signs of neglect; personal and professional well-being suffers at stressful times
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Emotional and physical wellness not a priority; personal and professional well-being suffers most of the time Serious concerns about emotional and physical wellness priorities; damaging personal and professional impacts are evident Shows disregard for self and others

Work Effort and Collaboration

The ability to work and collaborate effectively.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Inspiring. At the level of design leaders and innovators Strong. Consistent with professional practice Adequate. University-level student effort
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Weak. Leaves tasks unfinished and creates work for others Inconsistent. Impedes others’ work and creates problems Refuses to work or participate

Writing: Draft

The ability to develop productive written drafts.

Exemplary Mastery Developing
Eloquent presentation of concepts; no errors; content reveals enlightening insights; arguments supported by many different viewpoints; very few refinements needed Structure and concepts are smoothy sequenced; very few errors; content is understandable and reveals new insights; well-supported arguments; minor refinements needed Structure needs refinement but concepts are in place; some errors; content reveals a few new insights; arguments need evidential support; some refinements needed
Beginning Incomplete Missing
Lacks consistent flow of ideas; concepts are fuzzy; many errors; content repeats what has been done before; arguments are not well supported; many refinements needed Difficult to follow and concepts are vague or missing; errors are distracting; content is incomplete and reveals no new thinking; assumptive arguments with very little support; complete revision or rewrite necessary Draft not turned in

Notice how each of these descriptions is fairly general? They were designed that way. The assessment and performance guidelines are just that—guidelines. Learning objectives and the one-point rubric are best understood in action.

Designing for Relatedness

I am currently teaching the Experience Design Studio in the xdMFA at Miami University. This semester, learners are exploring the concept of storytelling for experience design—how people’s daily lives (and their experiences) are impacted by design in real and perceived ways. I have copied the assignment sheet for the Designing for Relatedness Project into this post to demonstrate how learning objectives and achievement levels work in practice.

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Assignment Sheet

Designing for Relatedness will be due on March 3 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern

Grading, feedback, and turn-in details are on this page.

This assignment has multiple due dates, so review Canvas closely for the dates for each step.

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Assignment Steps

Activity Type Grade Type Who
Critique: Designing for Relatedness Critique 1 (Google Meet) Critique Participation Grade Everyone
Critique: Designing for Relatedness Critique 2 Critique Discussion Grade Everyone
Critique: Designing for Relatedness Critique 3 Critique Discussion Grade Everyone
Assignment: Designing for Relatedness: Process Work Assignment – Process Work Assignment Grade Everyone
XP Report: Designing for Relatedness Experience Report Experience Points Everyone
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Graded Deliverables

What Format Delivery
A Suite of Designed Outcomes Shared Google Drive link to designed outcomes (video and other media is acceptable if appropriate) uploaded to this assignment page
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Why are we doing this?

Designers are often asked to create outcomes that bring people together and help them stay together. It’s not an easy task—every scene is different. By practicing designing for relatedness, we can expand our toolkit for encouraging wellbeing.

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Think of the last time you were the “new person” in a group or at a place. Maybe it was when you moved to a new town. Perhaps it was when you joined a church, a gym, a sports team, or a book club. Starting a new job is indeed a moment when people feel “new.” There’s a lot to learn when getting to know the in’s and outs of a new job. Not only does a new employee have to learn business relationships, but there’s also the matter of how to use the phone system, where to park your car, and how chummy one can be with the boss. Being new raises many uncertainties. Feeling a sense of belonging is essential if “new people” hope to become fully-realized members of their new communities.

What if we focused our design skills on facilitating relatedness with the products, services, and systems we make? Could we reduce the awkwardness of being “new”? Could we help people become parts of their communities so both they and their new communities could flourish? Ryan and Deci (2000) highlight the importance of relatedness in Self Determination Theory:

Because extrinsically motivated behaviors are not typically interesting, the primary reason people initially perform such actions is because the behaviors are prompted, modeled, or valued by significant others to whom they feel (or want to feel) attached or related. This suggests that relatedness, the need to feel belongingess and connectedness with others, is centrally important for internalization.

To sum up Ryan and Deci’s findings, people will be intrinsically motivated to perform behaviors if they feel like they belong. How “important” other people are to an individual (e.g. a love interest, a boss, a family member, a neighbor) directly impacts how motivated a person is to perform certain behaviors.

For the Designing for Relatedness Project, we will focus on designing outcomes that can help a person belong when they enter a new community or a personal relationship. Here’s a quick video overview of the project.

All of our work in this project will center on relationships and how we can design to foster relatedness. All designed outcomes should have the same goal—support a sense of belonging for people who feel disconnected from another person or a community of people. For example, a few pairings for this assignment are shown in the table below.

Person Community/Person Relatedness Challenge Designed Outcomes
Butch, 58-year-old mechanical engineer

He is a new employee for the first time in 30 years
Hip Design Agency in Billings, Montana The agency is non-traditional—no offices, open concept, everyone wears shorts and jeans. Our engineer may have a hard time adapting to the workplace culture and co-workers who are much younger Onboarding trip experience where all employees go hiking and rafting.

Offer customized desk choices that match personal styles.

Creative Directors allow our designer to be more formal with them.
Theresa, 39-year-old, divorced woman

She is dating for the first time in 20 years
Rose, a woman she met whose intellect and personality she adores Uncertainty on how to show Rose that she loves her and wants to take their relationship to a more serious level A personalized set of love cards that tell the story of their 8-month relationship

A road trip, featuring a Spotify playlist of their favorite songs, stops along the way whose destinations and activities are meaningful for their relationship
Samson, 19-year-old, raised conservative Republican The Libertarian Party, wanting to recruit Samson to become active in the political party Must produce a convincing argument for Samson and others like him to become active in a third party A promo video at a sporting event

A party at a local craft brewery where Samson and those like him hang out

Yes, you can design what is essentially an expanded Valentine for this project! ❤️ You can create promotional materials, interior building spaces, services like parties and food ordering apps. You name it! As long as these items are developed to facilitate belonging and relatedness and hopefully sustain them. A few pairings for you to consider:

  • Immigrant feeling belonging in the United States
  • Best friends are away from one another for one year
  • Resident moving into a new town
  • Player joining a professional sports team
  • Individual has few or no deep friendships and wants to develop them
  • Social media user joins a new online community
  • Person joins a club that travels the world together
  • Older adult becomes a resident at an assisted living community
  • Teacher hopes to create an environment of collaborative learning in a classroom

In each of these examples, a person needs to feel belonging to a group or another person. Design a suite of things that can facilitate relatedness in ways that are relevant for the person (based on their relational characteristics) and match the attitude of the community/person who is producing them.


Each student will select a community/person that is being “joined” or where the target people will exist. These communities/people should be real (e.g. Ohio State University, Southwest Airlines, Newberg Chess Club, Boston Marathoners) or at least a high-definition fictional person with a robust profile in the case of a person-to-person belonging scenario. Yes, you can choose yourself and your significant other as the actors in this experience design scene!

Each student will create a rich persona of the person who is “joining” an entity/who needs to feel relatedness. Use the People: Relational aspects from AoE4D to guide your work.

Address each of the People: Relational aspects from AoE4D in your designed outcomes. These outcomes should be relevant to the persona’s personality. They should match the persona’s knowledge level. Make each outcome so they are relevant to the persona’s relational makeup.


  1. Select a community or a person with whom the target persona will be related.
  2. Create a persona, or use a real person
  3. Create designed outcomes (products, services, and systems) that facilitate relatedness.

Turning In Work

Turn in your work via this page and via the Assignment: Designing for Relatedness: Process Work page.

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Your performance on each of the following objectives will determine your grade. Pay attention to each one as you complete the activity.

  • Create multi-sensory design outcomes that delight while balancing usefulness and usability.
  • Analyze existing design outcomes and their intended and unintended consequences.
  • Develop high-definition design prototypes for digital, service, and physical outcomes.
  • Create enough different views and representations of the outcome so its functionality and qualities can be easily understood.
  • Create an outcome whose elements are stylistically cohesive.
  • Create images that clearly represent the prototype in the context(s) where it would exist.

You can earn a maximum of 5 points for each objective. Achievement levels include:

extraordinary performance
full competency
approaching competency
basic execution
missing assigned elements
no apparent attempt
5 pts 4.5 pts 4 pts 3.5 pts 3 pts 0 pts

Examples for each achievement level are listed in the course syllabus.

Feedback and Grading

Detailed feedback, point values, and the rubric for this assignment are on this page. A Risk Bonus can be earned for this assignment. Learn more about the Risk Bonus in the Syllabus.

Intelligences (PACES)

This experience has been designed to develop these intelligence types. Multiple intelligence measures are not part of the assignment grade.

More about PACES is available at the Multiple Intelligences for Design at Design Miami OH page.

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AoE4D People:Relational aspects


Technology and Materials

  • Software from Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Internet access
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Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.68

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This project cannot be completed with just one designed outcome. Relatedness requires many different approaches. Push yourself to produce outcomes that interlock and support one another.

In this assignment, learning objectives are clearly defined, point values are delineated, and performance measures are shared. Learners know what’s expected of them, all in one page. I even included a video to add some personal attention. Here’s where the one-point rubric comes in.

One-Point Rubric: Mastery is Mastery, the Rest Need Specific Feedback

We use the Canvas Learning Management System at Miami. I input all of my learning objectives and rubrics, and point values into Canvas before assignments are launched so students can see what is required of them and how they will earn points. When I grade projects in Canvas, this is what I see.

a screenshot of the Speed Grader interface in Canvas

In this one-point rubric, the description for “Mastery” has been set, but Exemplary, Developing, Beginning, and Missing are empty. Notice how each of the learning objectives listed in the assignment sheet also appears in the rubric. Imagine that! I am evaluating only what I said I would when the assignment launched. How’s that for transparency? ❤️

When I evaluate work using a one-point rubric, I do not have to give detailed feedback when learners achieve mastery. After all—if they mastered something, they mastered it! However, in cases where learners went above and beyond (exemplary) or are on their way to mastery (developing, beginning, etc.), detailed feedback is warranted. These are cases when I can tell learners why their work is more than I ever expected and how their work could improve as they approach mastery.

The one-point rubric focuses learning on mastery. If designers graduate and can say they have mastered dozens of learning objectives, I believe they will be well-prepared to do the work ahead of them in their careers and flourish as they grow beyond their formal education.

Assessment is not a four-letter word. It’s a way for learners to know how well their knowledge, thinking, and skills are developing. It’s a way for them to see where they are and where they need to go next. As an educator, it’s also a way for me to get feedback on how well the activities I assign and the lessons I deliver are achieving their intended goals—to facilitate learning and empower learners to grow.

Many of the ideas in this post are not my own—they were developed in conversations with people way smarter than I am. Thanks to these people who have challenged me to be a more effective educator.

One of my mentors, Eric Ligon at the University of North Texas, challenged me to think like an educator, not just a designer. My colleagues and mentors at the Center for Teaching Excellence at Miami University through various Faculty Learning Communities. My friend and colleague at Miami University, Dr. Stephanie Baer, empowers learners and champions productive and transformative assessment. And my wife, Amy Cheatham, has been an educator way longer than I have and whose lessons I am still learning.

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