Case-based assessment for responsible designers


Assessment type:


Learning outcome:



Assessing students’ learning through an analysis of a case provided by the teacher is a summative method. The students are assessed by asking them to apply their acquired skills on a case by imagining and analysing potential consequences of a design.


Case-based assessment is a summative method for assessing the students’ attitude in relation to either their understanding of a specific theory applied to a (new) case, or how they would react in a certain situation. The choice of case could either be a re-run of some elements of the teaching activity or as a new standalone case.

Instead of assessing through e.g., memorization, the students are asked to apply their acquired knowledge on a case. Case-based assessment thus reduces the possibility of the students simply remembering a key phrase.

Based on a case presented as text, video, image or audio, the students work with the case provided by the teacher through the use of various media (e.g., text, visuals, video). An example of such a case can be an existing design, a situation, a scenario or it can be an example that has been presented in the teaching activity. The case can be picked by students or by the teacher, and the students can all look at the same case or a different one

In this activity, the students work with a case through imagining and analysing potential widespread consequences, long-term effects and societal impacts of designs.


After the teaching activity, ask the students to analyse a case (either as a re-run of some elements of the teaching activity or as a new standalone case), to demonstrate their attitudes by the way they approach or analyse the case. Ask the students to focus the analysis of the case by targeting the specified assessment criteria listed in the teaching activity.

Instructions to the students:

Step 1:

  • Get an overview of what the case is about.

Step 2:

  • Analyse the case through the following criteria with a focus on values:

    • organisation of arguments,
    • feasibility of solutions presented,
    • consequences, long-term effects and societal impacts of the design.

The following steps, are optional:

Step 3:

  • Share the analysis of the case with the other students.

Step 4:

  • Review the other students' analyses to deepen and broaden your own reflections.


In this assessment activity, it is important to focus on the students’ attitudes in order to capture and address the “visible signs of learning'”. When doing a summative assessment, the focus is on whether the students are able to sum up and address intended learning outcomes relative to the assessment criteria. Summative assessment provides the teacher with information on the depth and breadth related to the student's learning. That is, are the students able to demonstrate and make visible what they have learned through the teaching activity?

When reviewing the students’ case analysis, 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?
  • How broad and deep are the students’ analyses of the potential consequences of a design using relevant envisioning criteria (including values) (e.g., in regards to re-design, further stakeholder dialogue, possible tensions)?
  • Are there obvious skills students did not talk about, or skills that are particularly strong/weak described?

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 case analyses that work particularly well in addressing the intended learning outcomes and assessment criteria (consider sharing these with the students)?