I’m arguing for a written examination to assess knowledge and understanding in design & technology in addition to an examination based on performance in tackling a significant designing and making project. In a previous post I’ve outlined some general possibilities but where the rubber really hits the road is when I try to come up with specific examples of questions. Ultimately I will have to take strong note of the assessment uncertainty principle posted by headguruteacher but for the moment I’ll just develop some examples. Note these examples will not include long-winded designing assignments as capability in designing will have been assessed through the designing and making assignment.
If we want to assess knowledge and understanding concerning manufacture how about …
Providing the following information:
- A clear photo of a particular product
- A clear, labeled, exploded diagram of a particular product
- A clear labeled diagram showing a range of possible starting materials in available forms that might be used in manufacturing the product
The question would require candidates to develop a multiple path flow chart describing how the different parts of the product would be made and then assembled into the finished product.
Supplementary questions might require candidates to comment on their answer in terms of:
- Where might the manufacturing be located,
- To what extent does the process involve machines, artificial intelligence and humans,
- What would be the impact of replacing one material with another?
This question can be seen as generic in that it could be adapted for many different product types consisting of different materials.
If we want to assess knowledge and understanding concerning materials how about …
Providing the following information:
- Illustration of a large hanging basket of flowers being watered from a watering can
- The designerly dilemma is which material to use to support the basket safely.
- Table giving the tensile strength of nylon, mild steel and aluminium
- Table giving the diameters available for nylon, mild steel and aluminium
- Mass of hanging basket
- Mass of water poured onto hanging basket
The question would require candidates to choose material of a particular diameter to support the basket and justify their choice in terms of why that material at that diameter and why not the other alternatives.
This question can be seen as generic in that it could be adapted for situations involving material choice with regard to particular properties e.g. different sorts of quilting for warmth, different ingredients for nutrition
If we want to assess knowledge and understanding concerning mechanical control how about …
Providing the following information about motor performance, wheel size and speed of rotation for toy cars:
- Car A – 5cm diameter wheels with a motor that turned the wheels at 5 revolutions in 10 seconds
- Car B – 2cm diameter wheels with a motor that turned the wheels at 10 revolutions in 10 seconds
- Car C – 3cm diameter wheels with a motor that turned the wheels at 6 revolutions in 10 seconds
Candidates would be asked to show which toy travels the fastest and suggest changes to wheel size to enable the slowest car to travel the fastest.
If we want to assess knowledge and understanding concerning the understanding of user need how about …
Providing a high quality line illustration or photograph of people at a particular place or in a particular situation e.g. at a railway terminus, on a long bus journey, waiting at a bus stop at night. Candidates would be required to look carefully at the illustration/photograph and identify the following categories of need:
And suggest products or services that might meet these needs
For questions requiring a synoptic response how about …
A question concerning justifying the worth of a particular product in which candidates are provided the following information
- An illustration of a product
- An illustration of the product in use
Candidates would be required to:
- Comment on the way the product works
- Comment on the needs or wants that the product meets
- Comment on how the product might be brought to market and hence become available to people
- Comment on the extent to which the product will be acceptable in society
- Make an overall judgment as to the worth of the product
A questions considering the disruptive effects of particular technologies in which candidates are provided with a short description of a situation in which an elderly person is being looked after by a care robot
Candidates are required to:
- Comment on the extent to which care robots might change the way the elderly are cared for
- Comment on the extent to which care robots might alter the way people live and work
- Comment on the extent to which new businesses might emerge and existing businesses fail as a result of using care robots
- Comment on the extent to which care robots might operate in other situations
- Make an overall judgement on whether care robots for the elderly should be used and developed further
The above is only a preliminary foray into very tricky territory but I’d welcome comments and examples of other possibilities