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Dr Darrall Thompson


Darrall was a professional graphic designer in London for 15 years with directorships of two companies before emigrating to Australia.

Consultancies in Australia included Apple Computer, DuPont, Fujitsu, NRMA, Clemengers, Leo Burnett and Advertising Partners working on the introduction of computing to the design profession, including the development of scanning and colour separation software.

Darrall joined the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) as a lecturer and continued freelance design, completing a research Masters in Design in 2004. His growing interest in pedagogy and the use of technology in education led to grants, publications and a current PhD applying Design Thinking to Education at the Australian Centre for Educational Study (Macquarie University).

His educational research has been commercialised by UTS in the form of a software system (REVIEW) used for assurance of learning and graduate attribute integration.


2000 'Macromedia Product Champion', University Sector Award NSW

2000 Faculty Teaching Award for Innovative Use of Technology

2003 UTS Equity, diversity and social justice award for organisation and supervision of community projects

2005 Appointed Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Faculty of Science and Information Technology.

Current Professional Member of Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA)

Current Member of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia (HERDSA)

Image of Darrall Thompson
Senior Lecturer, School of Design
Director - Teaching and Learning, School of Design
Master of Design (Research), PhD

Research Interests

Educational Research, Design Education, Mathematics and Design in Nature.

Visual Communication Design, Interface and web design, Information Design.


Thompson, D.G. 2006, 'E-Assessment: The Demise of Exams and the Rise of Generic Attribute Assessment for Improved Student Learning' in Roberts, T.S. (ed), Self, Peer and Group Assessment in E-Learning, Information Science Publishing (an imprint of Idea Group Inc.), USA, pp. 295-322.
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Thompson, D.G. 2008, 'Graduate attribute assessment: Using online visual communication to engage staff and students', Researching Academic Visions & Realities, iPED: Researching Academic Visions & Realities, Coventry University, Coventry University Technology Centre, pp. 152-159.
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Thompson, D.G. 2008, 'Software as a facilitator of graduate attribute integration and student self-assessment', ATN Assessment Conference 2008: Engaging Students in Assessment., ATN Assessment Conference, Australian Technology Network, University of South Australia, pp. 234-246.
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Thompson, D.G. 2008, 'Developing Graduate Attributes through the Business Law Curriculum', The Law, The Environment, Indigenous Peoples: Climate for Change?, ALTA 63rd Annual Conference 2008, James Cook University, James Cook University Cairns Campus, pp. 132-132.
Thompson, D.G. 2007, 'Integrating Graduate Attributes with Student Self Assessment', ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-6.
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Many design courses are now located in university faculties, often taught by current or ex-design practitioners. There are mandatory qualifications in educational theory and practice required for teachers in most school systems, but universities tend not to insist that staff have similar qualifications. In both contexts teaching and learning strategies are not necessarily informed by the latest educational theory and research.
Alexander, S.A., Harper, C., Anderson, T.K., Golja, T., Lowe, D.B., McLaughlan, R.G., Schaverien, L.R. & Thompson, D.G. 2006, 'Towards a mapping of the field of e-learning', Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006, Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Florida, USA, pp. 1636-1642.
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Towards a mapping of the field of e-learning New Search Print Abstract E-mail Abstract Full Text Add To Binder Export Citation Related Papers Alexander, S., Harper, C., Anderson, T., Golja, T., Lowe, D., McLaughlan, R., Schaverien, L. & Thompson, D. (2006). Towards a mapping of the field of e-learning. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 1636-1642). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Conference Information World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (EDMEDIA) 2006 June 2006 AACE Table of Contents Authors Shirley Alexander, Carly Harper, Theresa Anderson, Tanja Golja, David Lowe, Robert McLaughlan, Lyn Schaverien, Darrall Thompson, University of Technology Sydney, Australia Abstract This paper addresses perceptions that e-learning research is repetitive, technologically determined and avoids the difficult questions. A total of 107 papers from two conferences, one Australasian and the other American were analysed, using a framework which posed the following four questions. What questions are being asked? What theoretical positions are being taken? What counts as evidence in answering those questions? What is the educational significance of what has been found? There was clear evidence of varied approaches to undertaking e-learning research. The nature of the research questions reported support the view that there is a degree of repetition in current research projects, and a reluctance to tackle the big issues. The authors recommend that researchers move away from narrowly focused questions to an approach focused on the systems nature of student learning.
Thompson, D.G. 2005, 'Enriching Class Teaching with Educational Technology', Proceedings of the Fourth International Cyberspace Conference on Economics, CYBERG, The International Ergonomics Association Press, Johannesburg, South Africa, pp. 408-421.
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Thompson, D.G. & McGregor, I.M. 2005, 'Self and peer assessment for group work in large classes', Making a Difference: 2005 Evaluations and Assessment Conference, Evaluations and Assessment Conference, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, Sydney, Australia, pp. 41-52.
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Thompson, D.G. 2005, 'Online Assessment Using 'Graduate Attributes' as the core framework', Designs on E-Learning, International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Techonology in Art, Design and Communication, University of the Arts London, London, UK, pp. 1-9.
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Thompson, D.G. 2003, 'Online-Oncampus: the best of both worlds in a blended learning project', ATN Evaluation and Assessment Conference Proceedings 2003, 2003 Evaluations and Assessment Conference, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia.
This is the official ATN Universities conference on educational innovation
Thompson, D.G. 2002, 'Online learning environments for group-based assessment', Enhancing Curricula: exploring effective curriculum practices in art, design and communication in Higher Education, Enhancing Curricula: exploring effective curriculum practices in art, design and communication in Higher Education, Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art & Design, London, pp. 360-392.
Thompson, D.G. 2000, 'Learning and Teaching in design education: Creative holistic approaches and educational theory combined in the design and implementation of a web-based typography research project', Proceedings of the Perth Conference Re-inventing design education in the University Dec 2000, School of Design, Curtin University of Technology WA, N/A, pp. 0-0.

Journal articles

Thompson, D.G. 2016, 'Marks should not be the focus of assessment— but how can change be achieved?', Journal of Learning Analytics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 193-212.
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This paper attempts to address the possibility of real change after a hundred years of exam-based assessments that produce a single mark or grade as feedback on students' progress and abilities. It uses design thinking and a reframing of the assessment space to foreground an attribute-based approach that retains the diversity of aspects of a student's performance across subject boundaries. There are a number of rationales and concepts built into this approach that aim to divert staff and student focus from marks, content delivery, and retention, towards the development of knowledge literacies, conceptual frameworks, and a broad range of personal qualities and skills. Web-based software (REVIEW) developed and refined for more than a decade to facilitate this approach retains categorised student progress data through the day-to-day criterion-referenced marking of assignments and exams. Education research cited proposes that institutions should engage students as a partner in their personal and professional development rather than as a customer buying a degree. It is suggested and illustrated in this paper that the use of self-assessment and visual feedback on different categories of progress is part of the key to forming such a partnership.
Boud, D. & Thompson, D.G. 2015, 'The calibration of student judgement through self-assessment: disruptive effects of assessment patterns', Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 45-59.
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Can extended opportunities for self-assessment over time help students develop the capacity to make better judgements about their work? Using evidence gathered through students' voluntary self-assessment of their performance with respect to assessment tasks in two different disciplines at two Australian universities, the paper focuses on the effects of sequences of units of study and the use of different types of assessment task (written, oral, analysis, and project) in the development of student judgement. Convergence between student criteria-based gradings of their own performance in units of study and those allocated by tutors was analysed to explore the calibration of students' judgement over time. First, it seeks to replicate analyses from an earlier smaller-scale study to confirm that students' judgements can be calibrated through continuing opportunities for self- assessment and feedback. Second, it extends the analysis to coherently designed sequences of units of study and explores the effects of different types of assessment. It finds that disruptive patterns of assessment within a sequence of subjects can reduce convergence between student and tutor judgements.
Doloswala, N.K., Thompson, D.G. & Toner, P. 2013, 'Digital Based Media Design: The Innovative Contribution Of Design Graduates From Vocational And Higher Education Sectors', International Journal of Technology and Design Education, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 409-423.
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Design is increasingly being recognised as a key source of competitive advantage in the innovation economy of many countries. The key objective of this research was to understand the contribution by design graduates to creative industries innovative activities. Primary research was conducted to understand barriers and limitations of graduate contributions to such activities. The attributes and skills of graduates from the university and Vocational Education and Training sectors were the subject of the study. Two focus groups, one with the education sectors and the other with representatives from design firms, government institutions and design associations were held. Though each group of graduates was praised for having certain skill sets graduates from both sectors were found to be lacking in three key areas: problem solving, communication skills and commercial knowledge. A range of suggestions for systemic improvement were proposed as a result of the study.
Boud, D.J., Lawson, R. & Thompson, D.G. 2013, 'Does student engagement in self-assessment calibrate their judgement over time?', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 38, no. 8, pp. 941-956.
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One of the implicit aims of higher education is to enable students to become better judges of their own work. This paper examines whether students who voluntarily engage in self-assessment improve in their capacity to make those judgements. The study utilises data from a web-based marking system that provides students with the opportunity to assess themselves on each criterion for each assessment task throughout a programme of study. Student marks were compared with those from tutors to plot changes over time. The findings suggest that overall students judgements do converge with those of tutors, but that there is considerable variation across achievement levels, with weaker students showing little improvement. Whilst the study is limited by the exigencies of voluntary participation and thus consequential gaps in the data set, it shows how judgement over time can be demonstrated and points to the potential for more systematic interventions to improve students judgements. It also illustrates the use of the web-based marking and feedback software (ReView) that has considerable utility in aiding self-assessment research.
Lawson, R., Taylor, T.L., Thompson, D.G., Simpson, L., Freeman, M., Treleaven, L. & Rohde, F. 2012, 'Engaging with Graduate Attributes through Encouraging Accurate Student Self-Assessment', Asian Social Science, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1-12.
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Self-assessment can be conceptualised as the involvement of students in identifying assessment criteria and standards that they can apply to their work in order to make judgements about whether they have met these criteria (Boud, 1995). It is a process that promotes student learning rather than just grade allocation. However, self-assessment does not have obvious face validity for students; and many students find that making an objective assessment of their work difficult (Lindblom-ylanne, Pihlajamak & Kotkas, 2006). Previous business education research has also found that self-assessment does not closely reflect either peer or instructor assessments (Campbell, et al., 2001). The current study aimed to explore: (a) the relationship between self-assessment grading and teacher assessment; and (b) the effect of self-assessment in engaging students with graduate attributes, in order to explore the tenets of self-assessment This process of self-assessment was investigated through application of an online assessment system, ReView, to encourage more effective self-assessment in business education. Data collected from two groups (student and teacher) demonstrated that: (1) initial self-assessment results between the teaching academics and the students self-assessment, were significantly different with students overestimating their ability on every criterion; (2) however, the variation diminished with time to the point that there was no significant difference between the two assessments; and (3) students awareness of the graduate attributes for their degree program increased from the beginning to the end of the subject
Thompson, D.G., Doloswala, N.K. & Toner, P. 2011, 'Digital based media design: the innovative contribution of design graduates from vocational and higher education sectors', International Journal of Technology and Design Education, vol. Online, no. 13 December 2011.
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AbstractDesign is increasingly being recognised as a key source of competitive advantage in the innovation economy of many countries. The key objective of this research was to understand the contribution by design graduates to creative industries innovative activities. Primary research was conducted to understand barriers and limitations of graduate contributions to such activities. The attributes and skills of graduates from the university and Vocational Education and Training sectors were the subject of the study. Two focus groups, one with the education sectors and the other with representatives from design firms, government institutions and design associations were held. Though each group of graduates was praised for having certain skill sets graduates from both sectors were found to be lacking in three key areas: problem solving, communication skills and commercial knowledge. A range of suggestions for systemic improvement were proposed as a result of the study.
Thompson, D.G. & McGregor, I.M. 2009, 'Online self- and peer assessment for groupwork', Education & Training, vol. 51, no. 5/6, pp. 434-447.
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Group-based tasks or assignments, if well designed, can yield benefits for student employability and other important attribute developments. However there is a fundamental problem when all members of the group receive the same mark and feedback. Disregarding the quality and level of individual contributions can seriously undermine many of the educational benefits that groupwork can potentially provide. This paper aims to describe the authors' research and practical experiences of using self and peer assessment in an attempt to retain these benefits.
Thompson, D.G. 2009, 'Successful engagement in graduate attribute assessment using software', Campus-Wide Information Systems, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 400-412.
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The benefits of an educational shift to graduate attribute development have been foregrounded in the educational literature since the early 1990s. Attribute mapping in documentation with no change to assessment constitutes a surface approach. This paper aims to use as an example a deep approach that uses software to facilitate staff and student engagement. The research data presented is from an ALTC project and the UTS School of Design.
Thompson, D.G., Treleaven, L., Kamvounias, P., Beem, B. & Hill, E. 2008, 'Integrating Graduate Attributes with Assessment Criteria in Business Education Using an Online Assessment System', Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 34-48.
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This paper describes a study of the integration of graduate attributes into Business education using an online system to facilitate the process. 'ReView' is a system that provides students with criteria-based tutor feedback on assessment tasks and also provides opportunities for online student self-assessment. Setup incorporates a process of 'review' whereby assessment criteria are grouped into graduate attribute categories and reworded to make explicit the qualities, knowledge and skills that are valued in student performance. Through this process, academics clarify and make explicit the alignment of assessment tasks to learning objectives and graduate attribute development across units and levels of a program of study. Its application in three undergraduate Business units was undertaken as a collaborative action research project to improve alignment of graduate attributes with assessment, identification of assessment criteria and feedback to students. This paper describes the use of Review and presents an analysis of post-ReView data that has institutional implications for improving assessment and self-assessment practices.
Kamvounias, P. & Thompson, D.G. 2008, 'Assessing Graduate Attributes in the Business Law Curriculum', Journal of the Australian Law Teachers Association, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 181-195.
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Moulton, B.D., Thompson, D.G. & O'Loughlin, P.A. 2007, 'A multidisciplinary education framework for interdisciplinary education which enables people from different disciplines to work together with community based organisations on real-world projects.', World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 235-238.
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This article provides findings and presents a collaborative education framework developed at UTS. It also reviews research and theoretical approaches relating to multidisciplinary education. The article is intended to be of interest to researchers and professionals who have interests in workplace learning and multidisciplinary education research.
Thompson, D.G. & Bamford, A.K. 2005, 'Transforming Student Assessment to Liberate Pedagogy', Snapshots - Journal of Innovation in Education, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 17-21.
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Current modes of assessment offer little information about the development of the range of attributes required for a changing world and workplace. Despite transformations in curriculum and the greater emphasis on creative approaches, quality teaching learning and critical thinking, assessment regimes have remained largely unchanged.
Thompson, D.G. 2003, 'Educational Concepts For Design Lecturers', Form/Work, vol. 6, pp. 81-90.
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Thompson, D.G. 2002, 'Assessing Group Projects in Design Education', The Design Journal, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 41-56.
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Non traditional outputs

Neumark, N., Vaile, I. & Thompson, D.G. 2004, 'Checklist for an armed robber', ABC Radio National, ABC Radio, Australia.
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Research Background - While spatial audio was familiar in immersive sound art, its potential on the Internet was ignored for technical and conceptual reasons. There was a need for an experimental artwork to demonstrate this potential. Further there was a need for effective and engaging cross-media projects, within major institutions such as the ABC. In relation to radio, there was a need to investigate how cross-media broadcast events and enhanced audience involvement could expand the reach and potential of radio drama, which was suffering from dwindling audiences. Research Question - Checklist for an Armed Robber comprised a two-part radio play and an associated online Internet site. The site reworked both the audio and its ideas in a visual-audio form. The project investigated effective and engaging dimensions in cross-media (radio and Internet) drama. It explored how spatial audio could specifically configure a dramatic space on the Internet. Checklist demonstrated possibilities to develop the same project both for Internet and radio in ways that challenged current practices of audio on each. It contributed to changing and expanding the constituencies and practices of audiences of each, through experience of cross-platform cross-pollination. The project looked to a future where radio broadcast could interweave with the Internet to enable the radio and Internet works to complicate and enhance each other. Research Significance - The significance of this research is the innovative use of spatial audio in an Internet work and the development of cross-media drama for radio and Internet. Its value is attested by the funding from ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) Radio and ABC New Media as well as UTS. This (first time) collaboration between ABC Radio and New Media was one of the bases for the formation of its highly acclaimed Pool site, and the UTS researchers were invited to play a key role in this as a result of this work.
Thompson, D.G., 'Pentagon House Project', -.


Thompson, D.G. 2009, 'ReView (online criteria-based assessment software)', University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney Australia.
ReView is a criteria-based assessment tool that assists staff in making explicit the assessment criteria aimed at the development of university selected 'attributes' across different subjects or units in a course of study. It also enables students to 'self-assess' their own work against those criteria and monitor their own development against discipline-specific attribute categories.


Green, R. & Thompson, D.G. University of Technology, Sydney 2010, Sydney Business and Education Creative Hub Scoping Study, pp. 1-51.
This study has its starting point in the emergence of a 'creative hub' of business and community activity in sydney's vibrant, multi-cultural area around Broadway and between Pyrmont and Surry Hills. This activity encompasses digital media and advertising, film and television, architecture and planning and fashion and design, and its internal dynamic of growth and innovation is increasingly reinforced by development of social networks and collaboration. The study asks what can be done to facilitate the growth and diffusion of this activity, including the opportunities for collaboration, and how can education and skill providers best contribute to build innovative potential and capability in firms and organisations to maximise their sustainable economic and social impact.
Thompson, D.G. & Green, R. UTS 2009, Improving Systemic Approaches to Innovation Skills Integration in the Creative Industries, pp. 1-39, Sydney.
The degree to which students are encouraged to be innovative in both VET sector and university courses is an important factor in the development of a globally-connected creative industry that currently contributes 3% of Australian GDP. The Sydney region has the biggest concentration of design and media businesses in Australia and in 2009 the Government announced $17million over three years to develop a Creative Industries Innovation Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney as part of the Federal Government's Enterprise Connect program. This report focuses on 'design and media' education encompassing web design, advertising, print and publishing, broadcasting, film and TV, digital production, animation, online marketing, industrial design, visual communication, games design, fashion and textiles and interior design. The associated businesses are served by educational provision from five public universities and the ten colleges of Sydney Institute of TAFE, with a rapidly growing number of private providers offering both VET sector courses and university degrees.