Research: Harnessing Peer Evaluation in Design Thinking - A Dive into Adaptive Comparative Judgement in HE

In the realm of design education, where creativity and innovation are paramount, assessing student work poses unique challenges. Traditional grading methods often struggle to capture the essence of students' creative output. Enter Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ), a dynamic assessment method that promises a more nuanced approach. A recent study by Bartholomew, Mentzer, and Lynch, published in Frontiers in Education, sheds light on the validity of ACJ for peer evaluation in a design thinking course

The Study: Exploring ACJ in Design Thinking

The study focuses on the application of ACJ within a design thinking course, a domain where problem-solving and innovation are key. Unlike conventional assessment methods that rely on fixed criteria, ACJ involves students evaluating their peers' work by comparing pairs of projects and deciding which one better meets the course objectives. This process not only engages students more deeply with the material but also generates a collective ranking of projects based on the group's judgements.

Findings: Validating ACJ's Effectiveness

The findings from Bartholomew and colleagues' research are promising. They indicate that ACJ is not just a reliable way to assess student work in design thinking courses but also enhances the learning experience. By involving students in the assessment process, ACJ encourages critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the course content. Moreover, it empowers students by giving them a say in the evaluation process, fostering a more reflective and self-regulated learning environment.

Implications for Educators

For educators exploring innovative assessment methods that align with the collaborative and iterative nature of design thinking, ACJ offers a compelling solution. It provides a way to assess student projects that is both rigorous and adaptable, accommodating the diverse range of creative work students undertake. The study's findings suggest that ACJ can not only assess but also enhance the educational journey, making it a valuable tool for educators seeking to foster creativity and innovation in their students.

Conclusion: The Future of Assessment in Design Education

As we continue to push the boundaries of education, especially in creative disciplines like design thinking, ACJ stands out as a method that enriches both assessment and learning. Its ability to engage students in the evaluation process and to provide a nuanced understanding of their work makes ACJ a promising avenue for educators. The study by Bartholomew, Mentzer, and Lynch underscores the potential of ACJ to transform assessment in design education, paving the way for a more engaging and reflective approach to learning.Stay tuned to our blog at RM Compare for more insights into innovative assessment methods and the latest trends in educational technology.


Bartholomew, S. R., Mentzer, N., & Lynch, W. (2021). Examining the Validity of Adaptive Comparative Judgment for Peer Evaluation in a Design Thinking Course. Frontiers in Education, 6. [Frontiers].