The paper relates an explorative investigation into the ‘critique’ (where students present their design project to a panel of critics in front of their peers) to identify its potential as a pedagogic approach founded in a constructivist ideology. Qualitative data was gathered on the critique experiences of a sample of final year undergraduate architecture students through questionnaires and interviews. It was found that engrained paradigmatic assumptions generated power imbalances inappropriate for a constructivist approach. The critique was found to generate anxiety and both extrinsic and achievement motivation, leading to surface learning through the prioritisation of graphic communication over design. A new form of review addressing these findings is proposed as the basis for further research.