Contemporary educational approaches focus on learning that is situated within a context (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989) and that addresses authentic complex problems that allow for the promotion of students’ metacognition (Nelson & Narens, 1994). Feedback in design education has proven to be a valuable tool to achieve this and Constructivist principles that eschew a single ‘best’ approach allow for such feedback to come from peers as well as experts (Butler & Winne, 1995). This peer interaction reflects the collaborative nature of many design activities and research has shown that engaging in practice within small networks can enhance the creativity of the work produced (Uzzi & Spiro, 2005). This paper provides findings from research undertaken at an Australian university where design students were required to critique each other’s work as a design process before the submission of their final assignment. A formal online survey was conducted at the end of semester. The survey results indicated that students valued the peer assessment providing them with an opportunity to improve their work and improve understanding of subject matter through a cycle of giving and receiving feedback. Students also reported that the peer review was an opportunity for them to get insights into their own work by reviewing other students’ assignments and learning from comparison by seeing other students’ work. This reciprocal process of evaluation encouraged the students to actively participate in their own learning and exposed them to a greater diversity of other individual learning experiences. This reflective learning process simulates the dynamics of collaborative design in industry and it is useful training for students to prepare for future practice.
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Uzzi, B., & Spiro, J. (2005). Collaboration and Creativity: The Small World Problem. American Journal of Sociology, 111(2), 447-504. doi:10.1086/432782