The Three Secrets To Grade Success

Happy new year everyone!

Starting off this year I contemplated the last two and a half years at uni – and what a ride its been.
Like a huge misdirected alcohol fueled roller coaster driven by the Incredible Hulk. The blog is now featured on Dundee universities website under the “what the students say” section – Pondering this got me thinking. If I was reading this 3 years ago – what advice would I give myself (other than to invest in Apple stocks and eat more greens). Well; I’ve narrowed it down to 3 simple facts that no one else will tell you, and they have taken me 3 years to figure out.

1. Be creative – But not too creative
Here at Dundee university, in the product department – you are told to let your imagination run wild – the crazier and more lateral thinking you show – the better.
Now this is true, outside the box thinking is appreciated and will get you noticed. But if you’re interested in your grades? Well, keep it simple. You could have the plans for an time travelling, alcohol dispensing, butt wiping robot; but if you cannot deliver a perfectly working prototype in the timescale – forget it – make a toaster instead. My point? Your lecturer is going to appreciate a more “developed” solution that you can physically show – even if the idea isn’t particularly original.

C-3PO, Cool, But annoying and Unfinished - Grade D2

2. Documentation, documentation, documentation
Should you be able to create a very well developed time travelling, alcohol dispensing, butt wiping robot – You may think you are in

If you see dragons on your journey - Sketch em!

for a pat on the back. And you will be – from me. On the other hand if you have no documentation of the journey – its only worth (around) half that A1 you thoroughly deserve. Sketch books should be kept for every single project you do, start to finish – every sketch, every thought, every piece of research, every bit of inspiration needs to be IN THAT BOOK – As people often say its not the destination that is important – its the journey – And the same is true for product design.

3. Do what you are told
As much as we are told individual thinking is great, learn in your own way, yadda yadda – up to a point its true – past that point – its utter horseshit. I mean this in a couple of ways. Mostly the way your work is presented – You may be asked to be present work in mind map form, now I HATE mind maps (ooh controversial) because they do not appeal to my way of thinking (Linear – not made with clouds and coloured pencils) but for the love of all that is good and holy – Just do it, and do it well, you are only hurting your grades otherwise. Secondly, each lecturer has their own set of preferences and will prefer your work in their style, and they have years of experience – so why not. The simplest example I can think of is to bring attention back to the sketchbook issue – I’ve had a tutor that wanted everything in there, every doodle, every scribble, just jammed in – almost like a mindspew – onto paper. Whereas the other lecturer wanted clearly presented and neat sketchbooks – Bare in mind your sketchbooks are graded; so pleasing your lecturer is a no-brainer.

Of course following these three rules will not guarantee you that illusive A1 – But I promise they will help.


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