Beginning Design Students' Perception of Design Evaluation Techniques

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Seymour, Michael
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Evaluating design students requires inherently different methods than existing models available in other disciplines; as such incoming students are required to adjust. The primary difference between design education and education in other disciplines is that design is not often achieved with a single correct solution (Roberts, 2006). The purpose of design studios is to aid students in exploring creative solutions, as opposed to finding the single correct answer. This type of process-based teaching often creates confusion for beginning design students who may not be exposed to this method at the secondary education level. Research suggests that a beginning design student's confusion associated with process-based critiques causes learning difficulties (Roberts, 2006). Beginning design students enter studios, are told by their instructors that in design studios there is not a single correct solution, there may be several solutions to fulfill design requirements - what matters is the process. After all, designing is more than an activity - if it were not instruction would be enough (Uluoglu, 2000). But instruction is not enough. As any student knows, in nearly every level of education, instruction and evaluation go hand-in-hand. Even the most elementary educational models require evaluation techniques as an indication of learning. So in design studios, critiques must be tailored to indicate the student's process-based learning. Not only are beginning design students asked to think creatively and intuitively throughout the design process, they are also evaluated with methods that are, in many cases, foreign. To further complicate the matter, for beginning design instructors, the evaluation techniques that most accurately reflect students' learning, like the design process, is not subject to a single correct method. While several recent studies have indicated the pros and cons of traditional design juries generally, few have analyzed design students' perception of the effectiveness of alternative or supplementary critique approaches available to design instructors. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate commonly used design critique methods based on student's perception, with particular attention paid to students' perception of the design jury as means of evaluation.
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