Informal Peer Critique and the Negotiation of Habitus in a Design Studio

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Critique is considered to be a central feature of design education, serving as both a structural mechanism that provides regular feedback, and a high stakes assessment tool. This study utilizes informal peer critique as a natural extension of this existing form, engaging the practice community in reflection-in-action due to the natural physical co-location of the studio environment. The purpose of this study is to gain greater understanding of the pedagogical role of informal critique in shaping design thinking and judgment, as seen through the framing of Bourdieu’s habitus. The methodology of this study is informed by a critical theory perspective, and uses a combination of interview, observation, and stimulated recall in the process of data collection. Divergent viewpoints on the role of informal v. formal spaces, objectivity v. subjectivity of critique, and differences between professor and peer feedback are addressed. Additionally, beliefs about critique on the individual and group level are analysed as critical elements of an evolving habitus, supported by or developed in response to the culture inscribed by the pedagogy and design studio. This form of critique reveals tacit design thinking and conceptions of design, and outlines the co-construction of habitus by individual students and the design pedagogy.

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Informal Peer Critique and the Negotiation of Habitus in a Design Studio

  1. 1. Informal Peer Critiqueand the Negotiationof Habitus in aDesign StudioColin M. GrayDRS // CUMULUS 2013
  2. 2. Critique is central to design pedagogy(Anthony, 1991; Hokanson, 2012)Informal interaction between designstudents has not been adequatelyexplored (“the hidden curriculum”)(Dutton, 1991; Gray, in review; Willenbrock, 1991)background
  3. 3. PeerBetween members of the same academicprogram—in close proximity in terms ofexperience and statusInformalNot bounded by a traditional classroomenvironment or professor/programrepresentationbackground
  4. 4. review ofliterature
  5. 5. literatureExisting research on critiqueDesign juries (Anthony, 1991; Percy, 2004)Pin-ups or group crits (Blythman, Orr, & Blair, 2007; Hokanson, 2012)Desk crits (Reimer & Douglas, 2003; Boling & Smith, 2010)Peer-to-peer critique (Blythman, Orr, & Blair, 2007; Hokanson, 2012)
  6. 6. literatureLink of informal critique with reflectionSelf-reflection as a developmental aid(Schön, 1985; Cross, 2007)Verbalization of reflection within the studio(Logan, 2008; Morton & O’Brien, 2006; Dannels, Gaffney, & Martin, 2008)
  7. 7. literatureShift to a “critical pedagogy”Power invested in existing forms of critique(Anthony, 1991; Webster, 2006)Moving beyond an individualistic view(Crysler, 1995; Webster, 2008)
  8. 8. habitusHABITUSFIELDDOXABourdieu, 1977, 1980, 1984; Stevens, 1995
  9. 9. context
  10. 10. contextHuman-Computer Interaction design (HCI/d) program in aUnited States School of InformaticsHCI/d Master’s students (first and second year)
  11. 11. dataStudents (4—2 dyads)Three stage data collection:1. One hour interview about beliefs2. One hour constructed critique dyad3. One hour stimulated recall session
  12. 12. methods
  13. 13. methodsNaturalistic Inquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985)Critical theory (Carspecken, 1996)Intensive interview and observation strategies were used totarget beliefs and behaviors related to critique that were largelytacit in natureObservation of critique between study participants allowed for amore naturalistic view into the behaviors and strategies in situ.
  14. 14. analysisCoding of emergent themesSequence analysis of critique participants
  15. 15. findings
  16. 16. findingsBeliefs about critique:the environmentthe participants
  17. 17. findingsStructures of critique:formality v. informalityobjectivity v. subjectivityprofessor v. studentBELIEFS
  18. 18. findingsFormality v. InformalityLisa: “[the classroom is] sort of the place to like know that it’s not aboutyou, it’s about the design, and it’s more compartmentalized if you’reactually talking about it in that formal setting.”Paul: “[classroom critique is done] for the sake of critique”Lisa: “big things—concept things, problem space things”Paul: “I’m offering critique for the sake of helping you, not necessarilybecause like this is a grade […] it’s critique for the sake of getting better.”STRUCTURES
  19. 19. findingsObjective v. SubjectiveEmily: “I feel like critiquing is just as much about asking questions as it isabout giving an opinion.”Paul: “it’s too hard to offer kind of a generalized critique […] likeparameter-based critique. It’s just too difficult to say […] I know all of thisstuff enough to say that this is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong,because there’s no way you can—in this field.”MAJOR SETTING SHIFTS
  20. 20. findingsObjective v. SubjectiveJiao: “...every time you are working on a design or looking atother’s design, you are trying to see it from your perspectives, nomatter how um sympathetic you are. […] you will bring it—bringyour own (.) I would say experience or history or educationalbackground into it.”MAJOR SETTING SHIFTS
  21. 21. findingsProfessor v. StudentPaul: “[professor’s critique is not] tailored to my specific needs or abilitiesas well as like getting critique from classmates.”Lisa: “I don’t really want him to see like the messy bits where we’re losingour minds [laughs] I want him to see like the finished pretty version.”MAJOR SETTING SHIFTS
  22. 22. findingsProfessor v. StudentEmily: “I think the faculty here […] are just like really good at you know, I’llspend ten minutes trying to explain to them what I’m doing, and they askme like one question, and they’re like, answer me that in one sentence.And it’s almost like it’s a critique and a—I don’t think ultimatum is theword, but like a—them kind of almost like demanding that I change myperspective or that I like gather my thoughts.”MAJOR SETTING SHIFTS
  23. 23. HABITUSFIELDDOXA
  24. 24. A. LISA B. PAULCLASSROOMFORMALITYLEGITIMIZESCRITIQUECLASSROOMCRITIQUE ISPRO FORMAINTERSUBJECTIVESPACE FORMEDTHROUGH INTERACTION
  25. 25. next steps
  26. 26. next stepsLarger-scale study exploring the emergence of informal critiqueEthnographic methods to observe critique in a truly naturalisticcontext with self-selected participants (currently underway)Ongoing work to identify knowledge structures embedded indiscourse and interactions
  27. 27. referencesAnthony, Kathryn H. 1991. Design juries on trial: The renaissanceof the design studio. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Boling, Elizabeth, and Kennon M. Smith. 2010. “Intensive studioexperience in a non-studio masters program: Student activitiesand thinking across levels of design”. Montréal: Design ResearchSociety International Conference.Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice (trans. R.Nice). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.Bourdieu, Pierre. 1980. The Logic of Practice. Stanford: StanfordUniversity Press.Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A social critique of thejudgment of taste (trans. R. Nice). Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard University Press.Brandt, Carol B., Cennamo, Katherine, Douglas, Sarah, Vernon,Mitzi, McGrath, Margarita, and Yolanda Reimer. 2011. “Atheoretical framework for the studio as a learning environment”.International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 1-20.doi:10.1007/s10798-011-9181-5Calhoun, Craig. 1993. “Habitus, field, and capital: The questionof historical specificity”. In Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, 61-88.Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press.Carspecken, Phil F. 1996. Critical ethnography in educationalresearch: A theoretical and practical guide. New York: Routledge.Cennamo, Katherine S., Brandt, Carol B., and Brigitte Scott.2010. “Adapting the studio to design-based disciplines:Research-based strategies for effective practice”. In Proceedingsof the 2010 conference on higher education pedagogy.Blacksburg, Virginia, 14-15.Cross, Nigel. 2007. Designerly ways of knowing. Basel,Switzerland: Birkhäuser.Crysler, C. Greig. 1995. “Critical pedagogy and architecturaleducation”. Journal of Architectural Education, 48(4): 208-217Dannels, Deanna, Gaffney, Amy, and Kelly Martin. 2008. “Beyondcontent, deeper than delivery: What critique feedback revealsabout communication expectations in design education”.International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching andLearning, 2(2): 1-16.Do, Ellen Y. L., & Mark D. Gross. 1996. “Drawing as a means todesign reasoning”. In Artificial Intelligence in Design. Palo Alto,California.Hokanson, Brad. 2012. “The design critique as a model fordistributed learning”. In The next generation of distanceeducation: Unconstrained learning, edited by L. Moller & J. B.Huett, 71-83. Boston, Massachusetts: Springer.Logan, Cheri. 2008. “Metaphor and pedagogy in the designpracticum”. International Journal of Technology and DesignEducation, 18(1): 1-17. doi:10.1007/s10798-006-9009-x
  28. 28. referencesMorton, Janne, & David OBrien. 2006. “Selling your design: Oralcommunication pedagogy in design education”. CommunicationEducation, 54(1): 6–19. doi:10.1080/03634520500076885Percy, Christine. 2004. “Critical absence versus criticalengagement. Problematics of the crit in design learning andteaching”. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education,2(3): 143-154.Reimer, Yolanda J., and Sarah A. Douglas. 2003. “Teaching HCIdesign with the studio approach”. Computer Science Education,13(3): 191-205.Schön, Donald A. 1985. The design studio: An exploration of itstraditions and potentials. London: RIBA Publications Limited.Shaffer, David W. 2003. Portrait of the oxford design studio: Anethnography of design pedagogy. WCER Working Paper No.2003-11. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison,Wisconsin Center for Educational Research.Shulman, Lee S. 2005. “Signature pedagogies in theprofessions”. Daedalus, 134(3): 52-59.Siegel, Martin A., and Erik Stolterman. 2008. “Metamorphosis:Transforming non-designers into designers”. In Undisciplined!Proceedings of the Design Research Society conference 2008:378:1-13. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Hallam University.Stevens, Garry. 1995. “Struggle in the studio: A Bourdivin look atarchitectural pedagogy”. Journal of Architectural Education,49(2): 105-122.Webster, Helena. 2006. “Power, freedom and resistance:Excavating the design jury”. International Journal of Art & DesignEducation, 25(3): 286-296.Webster, Helena. 2008. “Architectural education after Schön:Cracks, blurs, boundaries and beyond”. Journal for Education inthe Built Environment, 3(2): 63-74
  29. 29. questions?
  30. 30. participantsparticipantsParticipant Pseudonym Gender M.S. Year Country of OriginPaul M 2nd USAEmily F 2nd USALisa F 1st USAJiao F 1st China

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