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2017 Conference - Disparate discourses?
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What counts as knowledge and competence in particular domains and how this is best taught, learnt and assessed underpins ESP test construct validity, and ESP pedagogy more generally. This paper reports on an analysis of an academic ‘task’ in the domain of architecture; one which mediates between the two worlds of the academy and profession. The ‘task’ is the weekly review of students’ in-progress designs that takes place in the design studio and is known indigenously as the ‘desk-crit’. In the education of architects, this is the academic task that is identified by domain insiders as best reflecting the communicative demands of the profession.

The study used a situated genre analysis to explore the patterns of communication in the desk-crit, to identify the criteria for evaluation, and to uncover the attitudes and values implicit in the performance of this task. While the focus of the analysis was on the desk-crits that took place within a design studio course taught by one highly experienced architecture academic, this paper also reports the views of four practising architects. The paper concludes that the genre of this key design studio event is an ideal site to explore the different perspectives of the academic and professional communities on the knowledge and communication skills required in the domain of architecture. The implications of this study for specific-purpose assessment will be briefly considered.

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