Rethinking The Crit

By: Patrick Flynn  

Assessment in architecture and creative arts schools has traditionally adopted a ‘one size fits all’ approach by using the ‘crit’, where students pin up their work, make a presentation and receive verbal feedback in front of peers and academic staff. In addition to increasing stress and inhibiting learning, which may impact more depending on gender and ethnicity, the adversarial structure of the ‘crit’ reinforces power imbalances and thereby ultimately contributes to the reproduction of dominant cultural paradigms. This paper critically examines the role of this method of assessment for architectural students. It examines the pedagogical theory underlying this approach, discusses recent critiques of approach and the reality of the ‘crit’ is examined through analysis of practice. This leads into a discussion of an action research in which academic staff have piloted new methods of formative and summative student-centred assessment without a ‘crit’. Our research project adds blended learning to new assessment methods in a radical approach challenging the dominant pedagogical theory and practice in architecture internationally. Feedback on the pilot from students, academic staff and external examiners has been extremely positive. We are now in the process of expanding this pilot, reviewing emergent best practice abroad and aim to bring international experts to evaluate and develop the approach. While our focus will be on architecture, it will be relevant to other creative disciplines which use the ‘crit’ method. We will also explore digital approaches to support student reflection.

Feedback Assessment Pedagogy Architecture
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Patrick Flynn

Lecturer, Architecture, TU Dublin, Ireland

Lecturer School of Architecture TU Dublin. Special interest in environment and education theory. I have worked in practice in New York and Dublin. I have served on visiting boards on behalf of the institute of architects. I have acted as a visiting lecturer to other colleges.