Historical value timeline


Assessment type:


Learning outcome:



Writing a historical timeline is an ipsative assessment of students' progress in acquiring specific skills in designing with values. The historical timeline demonstrates the lifecycle of values in the design process, where the students reflect about values within the design process, by addressing the consequences, emergence, and disappearance of values.


Students often view learning as distinctly linear: event A happened, then event B, then event C. Thisma kes it challenging for students to identify and self-assess their progress. Writing a historical timeline of the values within the design process capitalizes on this tendency, but then forces students to take a step back and take a helicopter perspective to identify relationships between learning experiences using an ipsative approach.

Based on the suggested assessment criteria listed in the teaching activity, this assessment activity encourages students, in an ipsative way, to reflect upon their own design projects and think about whether they should make changes in order to adapt to changing conditions over time within a product, system or service.

By asking students to write historical timelines of the values within the design process on the basis of specified assessment criteria, the teacher can assess students' acquired skill in relation to the value dimension of design such as value tensions in their design, identified harms/benefits, stakeholder analysis, etc.


During the teaching activity, the students map out their work with values to create historical timelines of the values within the design process in order to demonstrate their skills about working with values in design. At the end of the activity (or course, or semester) the students are asked to create an argumentation for their designerly choices focusing on values in design and the specified assessment criteria.

Instructions to the students:

Step 1:

  • Create a timeline in a text document covering the entire teaching activity, (or course, or semester).

Step 2:

  • During the activity, add all value related observations, reflections, thoughts, etc. and when they occur to the correct timestamp on the historical timeline. This could for example be consequences, emergence and disappearance of a value in the design process.

Step 3:

  • At the end of the teaching activity (or course, or semester), conduct an analysis where you compare the different time periods you have carried out in your process. Pay attention to whether there has been any change and/or continuity over time related to working with values

Step 4:

  • Below the timeline, write arguments that connect the identified changes and/or continuity related to values with skills necessary to embed values in design. This could for example be an argument about why certain activities or initiatives in the design process supported the ability to embed values in design.


In this assessment activity, it is important to focus on the students' skills to capture and address the “visible signs of learning”. When doing an ipsative assessment the focus is on whether the students are able to explain, identify or realise important experiences that over time created progress in the learning situation relative to the intended learning goals and assessment criteria. An Ipsative assessment thus provides the teacher with information on the depth, breadth and recurring patterns related to the progress of students’ learning. That is, in what ways the students are able to make visible the new skills that they have acquired over time.

When reviewing the students’ historical timelines of values within the design process, it might be helpful to pay attention to the following optional proposals for focus points depending on the content of the related teaching activity:

  • To what extent do the students meet the assessment criteria listed in the teaching activity?
  • Can the student identify progress as well as a lack of progress?
  • How deep and broad are the students' historical timelines when it comes to providing information about their skills and abilities to reflect upon values?
  • Are there obvious connections in the historical timeline about any change and/or continuity over time related to working with values that students did not make, or connections that are particularly strong/weak?

For further professional development consider:

  • Are there specific learning outcomes or assessment criteria that students are particularly successful/unsuccessful in demonstrating?
  • Are there any exemplary historical timelines that work particularly well in addressing learning goals and assessment criteria (consider sharing these with the students)?