Faculty-led Inquiry into Reflective and Scholarly Teaching (FIRST)


Date of this Version


Document Type



Casto, Mary Alice. "TMFD 144-Intro to Design Theory and Criticism: A Peer Review of Teaching Benchmark Portfolio" (2019). UNL Faculty Portfolios, 146. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/prtunl/146


In this benchmark teaching portfolio, I examine TMFD 144: Intro to Design Theory and Criticism. It is offered every semester. The course focuses on visual literacy in the art and design fields. The overarching course goal is to teach students to actively “see” and interpret the visual world. Students should also learn to communicate clearly and effectively about the visual aspects of art and design as well as their interpretation. This course is a required foundation course for all TMFD majors and minors. It is also an ACE 2 course that enrolls students from across the university. The course is taught entirely online through Canvas. For the portfolio I examined trends in scores on an assignment that students revised three times over the semester. Students wrote 2 short essays on 2 different paintings. The assignment is intended to demonstrate student competency and the internalization of course materials. The findings indicated an average 4% improvement over the semester but when drilling down there was high variability in students scores in both the midterm and final essays as indicated by high standard deviations. The assignment has potential to be an excellent assessment but it needs modified to accommodate the diverse knowledge and skill set that an ACE course includes. I make suggestions to adjust the criteria, provide more structure in the assignment and to more clearly connect for students, the assignment to course goals and weekly workloads.