Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
Design and Visual Communication 2016

Standard 93602

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • engaged in a design context in a way that suited their own interests, expertise, and approaches to design
  • demonstrated iterative and purposeful design strategies, exploring diverse themes that resulted in a sophisticated conceptual statement
  • synthesised design ideas; pushed the boundaries; revisited design thoughts with rigour
  • produced ideas with a new perspective to the brief, engaging with the design problem in a deeply personal way. This resulted in a unique design outcome with a clear and distinctive designer voice that expressed fresh thinking with integrated layers of meaning
  • demonstrated design thinking that was inspired and had coherent elements of creativity and ingenuity, stemming from original and highly perceptive ideation
  • used visual communication techniques with a high level of fluency and sophistication to convey a perceptive and compelling design narrative in a highly captivating manner
  • employed outstanding visual presentation techniques, working to their own personal strengths with a visual impact that was convincing and left a lasting impression that evoked the spirit of the design.   

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • used ideation purposefully to generate and discover ideas that were then pursued further as part of a design practice
  • used research material in an ongoing and informed manner that integrated effectively with design thinking
  • demonstrated the exploration and evolution of ideas that were purposeful, blending influences and design brief considerations
  • applied a cohesive design process which allowed the creative exploration and evolution of ideas, leading to well-considered design ideas
  • considered the design details within a whole idea and in relation to alternative design ideas, interrogating these as design possibilities
  • explored design issues and ideas beyond aesthetic or cosmetic characteristics, and beyond the immediate design context
  • articulated the clear communication of ideas and design thinking using visual techniques (sketching, model-making and/or formal drawing, digital and/or manual) as suitable to the strengths of the candidate
  • used visuals that showed a variety of viewpoints, explaining function or intention, referencing the human element, without the need to read supporting annotation
  • used increasingly complex and detailed visuals to communicate an increasing understanding and refining of the design ideas as the project progressed.  

Other candidates commonly:

  • did not take ideation ideas purposefully into the development phase, lost opportunities of having interesting starting points that did not continue further into their design thinking
  • lacked the demonstration of in-depth design thinking, with candidates disadvantaged by either; the substantial scale of the design brief undertaken; a lack of design ideation strategies; a regimented execution of a prescribed, pre-determined approach 
  • did not show the engagement required for their design context – the work was not well considered or did not show quality exploration and evolution of an outcome
  • did not evolve ideas with purpose – lacked the ongoing aspect of idea refinement that draws on design considerations and explores ideas with depth or detail
  • generated a range of ideas using set creative exercises or techniques but did not develop their own perspective or point of view as a designer. Used inspiration material directly rather than using it to stimulate their own thinking
  • showed ideas relevant to an identified design brief or problem but overlooked major issues or failed to address aspects of the brief 
  • showed minimal or no reference to the human body in architectural or product design ideas
  • showed details of the design explored independently without considering how they may affect the overall design
  • used development to explain how the design idea functioned rather than exploring the idea further for the purposes of improving the final outcome
  • lacked skills in visual communication to competently describe design ideas, show a clear design narrative, or in the presentation of a refined outcome
  • submitted incomplete or unresolved work, lacking the completion of a finished outcome, often this was due to an over emphasis on ideation and initial idea generation.

Standard-specific comments

There is no examination paper for this subject; rather, students submit a portfolio that is assessed externally. For Scholarship DVC, the assessment conditions remain relatively consistent with the requirement of a portfolio submission of a single major design project and an assessment schedule that has a relatively consistent in its application each year.

For 2016, spatial design prevailed at the top end of the rank, with more architectural projects reaching up to and near the Outstanding Scholarship level.

For the top-ranking submissions, their varied approach and strengths again show that there is no single approach in attaining outstanding success.

The effective use of ideation strategies used for the generation of diverse and creative ideas can aid opportunities for success, though there are still many approaches to initiating ideas that were generic class-directed activities that didn’t allow students to engage with the design context with purpose or allowed the expression of their own personal design perspective.

The more successful submissions not only used these strategies well in the initial stages of the project, but also successfully ran these initial influences and creative approaches throughout the ongoing exploration and refinement of design ideas.

One of the keys to success is that candidates must show their ability to discern and make effective design decisions that show that they are recognising their best ideas. Often, candidates kept exploring and ideating at the expense of moving forward purposefully in refining and resolving their design.

The most successful submissions involve candidates’ recognising their sophisticated moments and taking advantage of these opportunities in their design practice.

Candidates must be aware that drawing is not just for the purposes of explaining their ideas but is also a design thinking tool. Hence, the visual narrative of creative thinking is key to both the evolution and resolution of design ideas as well as the effective communication of this evidence of design thinking.

The universal principles of visual communication ensuring design ideas and narratives are succinct, clearly communicated, informative and interesting, remains key to success, irrespective of the mode being used.

The depth and detail of visual communication is paramount to effective candidate evidence. The comprehensive use of design drawings (whether done by hand or digitally) best expresses the design intent of a candidate in the manner required.

When students are generating their digital models, they must ensure that they utilise their full potential of these by showing various view points and close-ups in a connected and coherent manner.

The use of digitally based evidence continues to increase as ready access to software becomes more prevalent. Although still images predominate, there is the growing emergence of moving image and digital animation. For such formats, it is essential that purposeful editing, composition (cinematically) and high quality rendering, is effectively utilised.

The comprehensive communication of design features in detail and with refinement remains key whether the mode involves still or moving images.

It is worth reiterating that the excessive use of annotation adds little value, and it is positive to see many candidates are appropriately communicating their own thinking in a predominantly visual manner.

There were instances of candidates who put on high-quality presentations to only evidence these through small photographs only. If exhibition set-ups are done, decent recording of this evidence is beneficial to communicate high quality visual communication principles and skills. High-quality photographing of three-dimensional work is important.

Where possible, any large format presentation panels should also be re-printed up to a suitable size within the given assessment specifications for Scholarship DVC to allow suitable reward of the presentation skills shown. 

Exemplar and assessment resources can be found on the NZQA. 


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