Defining and Refining the Industrial Design Critique In Educational Settings
Lorraine Justice, Ruth Cutts, Leon Fowler, Nick LaRoche, Michael Nelson, Jeremy Van Hill
Georgia Institute of Technology
Five students at Georgia Tech found themselves in the position of critiquing younger design students’ work in a common freshman year class. As students of design, a large part of these five students’ education revolves around the design critique. They were comfortable as ‘a student being reviewed’ but not as a reviewer. This led to the industrial design students’ search for emotional handling of the critique, understanding the critique process in education, and guidelines for design students to follow during their critique. The five students conducted research through an independent study with me over a period of 10 weeks, surveying all graduate and undergraduate students, and the faculty members in the Industrial Design Program. Interviews, discussion groups, and observations of critiques were also part of the research conducted. How critiques occur, why they occur and when they should occur was also part of the research.
The responses of student and instructor to interviews and surveys indicated both consensus and discrepancy in their perception and understanding of a critique. Both instructors and students understood the critique as a time of evaluation, necessary in all stages of the design process, and agreed on the importance of this evaluation. Students overwhelmingly expressed welcome and the value of both peer and instructor critique. However, the students varied in the relative importance of the two. The break between student and instructor perceptions came at a very crucial point. The instructors emphasized the importance of constraints and evaluations based on pre-established criteria and objectives. Students rarely, if ever, alluded to criteria or objectives as the basis for the critique. The disparity between a strong student awareness for the importance of a critique and yet a lack of understanding for the essential foundation of the practice of evaluation has led the students and supporting faculty members to produce guidelines on design critiques for current and incoming students. These guidelines for critique will allow both the students and instructors to utilize their evaluation time more effectively and address issues such as sensitivity to criticism. This paper shares findings on critique with the industrial design educators, and guidelines for students as well.