Why the ‘Crit.’ Fails: Constructive alignment and pragmatic structures in Art and Design assessment practice.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


This paper examines the role the critique plays in a constructively aligned, student-led curriculum in studio based teaching. It is suggested that during ‘the crit’, conversations structured around reflective practice need to explicitly align learning outcomes and grade criteria to the practice of artifact generation in order to help students develop a deeper understanding of their own learning. The critique presents challenges to promoting deep reflective learning, since the traditional ‘crit’ structure is perceived by students as being biased, political and emotionally stressful. Through an action research methodology, this paper attempts to understand the perceptions of a cohort of students to a critique variation aligning it more closely to assessment strategies used by academic staff in the grading of student work. First Year students in Art and Design were asked to assess a collection of their peers’ work using a colour coded grading scheme. Half the cohort were asked to do a self-assessment of their work prior this exercise, while the second half of the cohort were asked to self-assess following the exercise. A questionnaire was given to all students requesting them to report on their understanding of the learning outcomes and its relationship to the project after all assessments had been completed. Wordle, an online tool that visualises the frequency of word usage in text, was used to generate word clouds of student responses to questionnaires. It is suggested that greater frequency of particular words used can be correlated to deep understanding, structured around Grice’s concept of conversational implicature. Results suggest that the traditional ‘crit’ format would benefit from more explicit alignment to learning tasks, rather than generated artifacts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAction Research in the Creative Studio
EditorsJohn Stuart-Murray
Publisher CEBE, Centre for Education in the Built Environment.
ISBN (Electronic)1745-0322
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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