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Assessing Creativity In Architectural Design: Evidence For Using Student Peer Review In The Studio As A Learning And Assessment Tool

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Beneficial Case Studies in AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.236.1 - 14.236.27



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Paper Authors


Joseph Betz State University of New York

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Joseph A. Betz is an architect and Professor in the Department of Architecture & Construction Management at the State University of New York College of Technology at Farmingdale. He received his undergraduate and professional degrees in architecture from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his post-professional degree in architecture from Columbia University. A recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, he has served as both national Program Chair and Division Chair of the Architectural Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Creativity in Architectural Design: evidence for using student peer review in the studio as an assessment tool

Abstract Creativity is a phenomenon that occurs in architectural design where there is no universal or authoritative definition. This presents a dilemma for both faculty and students in assessing student work because it asks the question, “How do we measure something that we have difficulty in defining?” This three-year study will present evidence that both students and faculty agree on levels of creativity when they see it, regardless of a set definition and without faculty stating their opinions during the design and critique process. Students were asked to apply a number of architectural design concepts to a simple one-day design problem. They then comparatively analyzed and critiqued the projects in group discussion that was moderated by the faculty. Students were also asked to privately journal their observations and select without discussion a set number of the most successful projects in the class. Successful projects were defined as ones that applied these concepts in a creative way to produce a solution. The problems were purposely left somewhat ill-defined with few constraints that allowed for a broad range of creativity. At the same time, faculty privately assessed and graded the students’ projects. It was found that a comparison between faculty grades and collective student rankings revealed a strong correlation in identifying the most and least creative projects. Two different statistical methods are used to support this conclusion. It also indicated that the difference in priori experience between faculty and students did not play a role in assessment outcomes. The immediate implications for these findings is for faculty to use student peer review to justify a highly subject grading process. The broader findings will allow for the development of a number of learning and analysis tools in the classroom and beyond.

Introduction Private student journals were introduced in my architectural design studio several years ago for two primary reasons: one, to keep students focused during group critiques of projects and two, as a tool for faculty to obtain feedback. In addition to learning about what students thought and how they understood the concepts that they were applying, they were asked to select the best three or four projects in the class in terms of being the most creative and successful overall. Interestingly enough, their collective rankings in this process and my independent assessment, as reflected in the project grades, paralleled each other. This correlation took place without me telling students which projects were the best. The idea was to have students discover this through a rigorous comparative critique process. The process was based on mapping concepts as a series of characteristics or facets. If enough points were mapped it gave a full summary of each project in terms of its individual strengths and weaknesses in addition to the entire ensemble. Several students at a time would debate the application of concepts in this context. The faculty moderated the discussion, without prejudice or preference for one project or another. One fascinating aspect to this correlation had to do with why both students and faculty can recognize the best projects without an explicit definition or weighted formula for creativity. The one day sketch problems given could be termed as new to students, very open, functionally unconstrained and ill-defined; the types of problems that tend to maximize creativity (Simon, Newell and Shaw 1962; Rowe 1982; Dillion 1982; Getzels 1982). The other aspect to this

Betz, J. (2009, June), Assessing Creativity In Architectural Design: Evidence For Using Student Peer Review In The Studio As A Learning And Assessment Tool Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4750

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