Year: 2017
Editor: Berg, Arild; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon; Gulden, Tore; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Pavel, Nenad
Author: Benjamin, Stacy; Anderson, John
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Northwestern University, United States of America
Section: Design Education Practice
Page(s): 068-073
ISBN: 978-1-904670-84-1


We present how conducting expert design reviews in an undergraduate, capstone design project course can address learning goals related to design, communication, and professionalism. In this course, student teams work on client-based, open-ended projects. At two points in the process, each team participates in a design review that is held outside of class, using external experts with real domain knowledge. External reviewers are critical as they: are able to apply deep domain-specific knowledge and design experience to the project challenges, reinforce the model of the design process that we teach, add credibility due to their status as design professionals, and detect weaknesses in the designs. Having outside experts also changes emphasizes the coaching role of instructors, as they are no longer the main audience that the team must inform and persuade. Prior to the review, students write a design brief that is required to be concise, easy-to-skim, focused on evidence-based decisions, and supported with appropriate visual elements. They also prepare and practice a short presentation aligned with the design brief. During the review, they give the presentation, use interpersonal skills to solicit feedback and guide the conversation, take detailed notes, and sketch concepts to support discussion. Our experience suggests that implementing structured design reviews with well-qualified design professionals can catalyze student achievement in project-based design courses. In addition, when the design review experience includes a series of pre- and post-review design and communication activities, it creates a common thread throughout the course that links the learning goals.

Keywords: Design Review, Project Assessment, Design Communication

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