Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

The Visual and the Verbal in the Assessment of Design

Janne Morton, David O'Brien.

Assessment practices of architectural design at university indicate that the focus is primarily on students’ skills of visual representation with language playing only a subsidiary role (Dias et al., 1999). While it may be true that drawings and models need to ‘stand-alone’ in the final assessment, the ability to verbal communicate designs remains a crucial part of the presentation process. A verbal presentation requires students to articulate and defend their designs in front of their peers and an assessment panel.
This study is part of a larger research project, which analyses the discourse of presentations given by students in the first year design studio at a major architecture faculty. Of primary concern is the relationship between the verbal and visual presentations. This paper investigates this interaction and the integration of visual and verbal elements in design presentations. The researchers have concentrated on the role the visuals play in the organization of discourse and suggest that the relationship between visual and verbal discourse is not strictly linear – a difference that possibly reflects the non-linear process of design itself. We also found that the genre-like structure of the presentation appears to be fairly flexible for linguistic elements, whereas the use of visual representation appears to be more tightly constrained.
In this paper we argue that a combination of visual and verbal literacies are required for a student to be considered successful in design studio presentations. Despite this, we have found that students of design are rarely taught how to combine these literacies.


Janne Morton  (Australia)
Language and Learning Skills Unit Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
The University of Melbourne

Janne Morton works as an adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. Her research interests include investigating discipline-specific discourse practices (most recently in the field of architecture), writing pedagogy, and testing issues related to tertiary selection of students.

David O'Brien  (Australia)
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
The University of Melbourne

David O'Brien completed his degree in architecture the University of Melbourne. After practising for several years in a number of Melbourne firms and independently, he returned to the University of Melbourne to undertake a PhD. In 1999 he received the Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Fellowship, awarded through the Asialink Centre, to research the effects of globalisation upon the housing needs of rural communities in Thailand. He is now also involved in teaching architectural design and communication, both at the University of Melbourne and at its partner institutions in South East Asia.

  • Visual and Verbal Literacies
  • Academic Literacy
  • Design Studio Discourse
  • Assessment of Design

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)