Design Student Acculturation Through Collaborative Project Assesment


Studio learning, industrial design, cooperative, knowledge authority, design criticism


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

Original Publication Citation

Howell, B., Stark, C., & Turner, D. (2016). Design Student Acculturation Through Collaborative Project Assessment. Conference proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity (E&PDE16), Aalborg, Denmark, September 8-9

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor