“This uncertain space of teaching”: How design studio instructors depict design critiques along with themselves when giving critiques

Finally, the last article from my intensive study of design studios and the design critique has been published. In the first article, The Design Critique and the Moral Goods of Studio Pedagogy, we described studio instructors as balancing a host of unique, and sometimes competing, moral goods. This article dives into the idea of them being balancers more completely. We used our interview data to create a sketch of areas in which instructors thought they had to balance, and dispositions they developed to help them balance.


In this study we explored how design studio instructors depicted the design critique, themselves as people offering critiques, and what can be learned from their depictions about improving instructors’ abilities to offer critiques. To investigate these issues, we conducted a case study of studio instructors from design programs at a university in the United States. Our data consisted of three semi-structured interviews and one class observation each with six instructors from different programs, organized into a thematic structure that revealed insights into participants’ self-interpretations. We found that our participants depicted critiques as being a complex challenge, often placing competing demands upon them that they were required to reconcile. They depicted themselves as meeting these challenges through their cultivation of four dispositions that helped them balance tensions they experienced. We report these challenges and dispositions using our participants own words as much as possible. We also discuss implications of these findings for helping studio instructors improve their ability to offer critiques; assistance should take into account the inescapable need instructors will face to balance challenges that arise during critiques and should also help them cultivate affective dispositions that will help them successfully respond to critique situations.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Link to full-text


McDonald, J. K., & Michela, E. (2022). “This uncertain space of teaching”: How design studio instructors depict design critiques along with themselves when giving critiques. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 22(1), 48-66. https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v22i1.30888