Peer review as learning tool in design units

Dr. Jo Jung and Dr. Mark McMahon (ECU)
2016 Conference

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.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65(3), 245-257.

Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1994). The role of metacognition in problem solving. In J. Metcalfe & A. Shiminura (Eds.), Metacognition (pp. 207-226). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Uzzi, B., & Spiro, J. (2005). Collaboration and Creativity: The Small World Problem. American Journal of Sociology, 111(2), 447-504. doi:10.1086/432782

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About the author


Dr. Jo Jung (Edith Cowan University)

Jo Jung is the coordinator of Games & Interactivity at the School of Arts & Humanities at Edith Cowan University. Her research interest is in the field of human-computer interaction – in particular, user interface design approaches to improve the quality of user experience. Jo completed her PhD at Curtin University and the research topic was on socio-emotional UI design strategies, which adapted human behaviours and emotions to develop a set of design guidelines. Jo has presented research at international conferences including British HCI group annual conference in Scotland and Design & Emotion conference in Hong Kong. Jo also has consulted and worked on a number of industry and educational projects including WA Healthy Children Program (RefreshED) funded by the Western Australia Department of Health.


Dr. Mark McMahon (Edith Cowan University)

Mark McMahon is Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in Edith Cowan University, in the School of Arts & Humanities. Mark’s teaching has primarily been in the area of Digital Media and Game Design, with a particular focus on creativity and the design of transformational games. This is carried through in his research and consulting work. Mark was lead mentor on the Australian Flexible Learning Toolbox project – a decade long multimillion dollar initiative developing eLearning for the Vocational Education and Training sector.