Democratizing assessment practices through multimodal critique in the design classroom

  • Colin M. Gray


Critique is a primary method of assessment and feedback used in design education, yet is not well understood apart from traditional instructor-led activities in physical learning spaces. In this study, we analyze a series of group critiques in a human–computer interaction learning experience, focusing on an emergent instructional design for technologically-mediated critique created by experienced students serving as peer mentors. Peer mentors designed complex interactions that supported assessment in the design classroom, including multiple technology-supported modes of critique beyond the traditional oral critique. The modes of critique, and the ways in which they intertwined, included: (1) public oral critique led by the instructor, (2) a critique document authored by experienced students in real-time using Google Docs, and (3) backchannel chat used by experienced students in Google Docs to facilitate and organize their critique. Using this model of distributed assessment, which we refer to as multimodal critique, the amount of feedback and number of interlocutors increased dramatically, facilitating participation by students and peer mentors alike. These interactions indicate instructional affordances for including many simultaneous users within an existing assessment infrastructure using readily accessible technologies, and a means of activating student development at multiple levels of expertise.


Critique Computer-mediated communication Collaborative learning Interactive learning environments Human–computer interaction 



I gratefully acknowledge the early feedback on this data analysis approach from Craig Howard, and the helpful comments on earlier versions of this work by attendees of LearnxDesign 2015 in Chicago, IL.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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