An exploratory study of power dynamics and feedback in design reviews Conference

Cieminski, MJ, Strong, AC. (2017). An exploratory study of power dynamics and feedback in design reviews . 2017-June

cited authors

  • Cieminski, MJ; Strong, AC


  • A key event in many engineering and design learning environments is the design review, in which students present project work to solicit feedback from reviewers like instructors, peers, and outside visitors. Previous research on design reviews demonstrates how feedback affects student growth and task achievement. However, there is limited research within engineering education that examines the relationship between feedback and other features of a design review. One such feature is the power dynamics between the student and the instructor, which may be germane to the review outcome. The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate the extent to which power dynamics are related to the design review feedback. Using previously-collected video recordings of design reviews in an undergraduate mechanical engineering design course and an undergraduate industrial design course, an in-depth exploration of two formative design reviews (one from each course) was conducted. Open coding methodologies were applied to examine power structures and to capture the critical incidents related to power dynamics, while existing classification schemes were used to identify the types of feedback that occur within and around these incidents. Some feedback types were found to be commonly used by instructors to disrupt design reviews. Furthermore, the findings suggest that students adopt a relatively restricted set of approaches to interact with the reviewers in design reviews, and even in more-equitable reviews, students can have limited effect in achieving their discursive goals. Overall, the results of this exploratory research study can be used to provide educators with an increased awareness of the relationships among feedback, power dynamics, and project contexts and to support future research about power dynamics within design learning environments.

publication date

  • June 24, 2017


  • 2017-June