DESIGN STUDENT ACCULTURATION THROUGH COLLABORATIVE PROJECT ASSESSMENT
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Bryan F. Howell, Camilla Gwendolyn Stark, Daniela Turner
Institution: Brigham Young University
Acculturating young design students to the methods and languages of our common design traditions is
for many an unpleasant experience because of previous training in rigid school systems emphasizing
linear thinking, right or wrong answers, and strict adherence to established guidelines.
This paper reviews how students are acculturated into designerly ways of thinking through a four-step
process using collaborative product assessment as the vehicle for learning. Collaborative learning is
where students work equitably as they progress to common learning outcomes. The four steps are: 1)
the professor models project assessment, 2) students anonymously rank peer work, 3) students rank
peers work face to face, 4) a pair of students assess and rank a single assignment for the entire class.
To verify the success or failure of this process a survey was conducted on twenty-two freshman design
students and thirty-nine sophomore, junior and senior design students to uncover how their
collaboration efforts change with time. The overall peer trust increases among the freshman class and
is generally high among the upperclassmen. Trust towards the professor decreases each year until the
student’s senior year when it increases again. This indicates an increased sharing of knowledge
authority among the students and positive disposition for collaboration.
Though this paper specifically addresses collaborative assessment, intentional acculturation of all
designerly ways of thinking and doing allows students to sincerely evaluate whether or not they want
to pursue design as a career. For those who continue with the program engaging in these acculturation
steps encourages students to become independent, confident and thoughtful designers of impact.