Examples of Studio Art Grading Criteria

Using criteria that are vague and thus essentially useless is a hallmark of the grading of studio art. It leads teachers (and students) to think that it’s impossible to grade something that is inherently subjective. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some examples of grading criteria that are very often found in studio art courses and how they can be made more specific and useful. Note how vague the “Less Effective” criteria are, when compared to the “Better” criteria.

1. Less Effective: Creativity

Better: Student uses her/his materials in a way that seeks to reveal or discover the nature of the subject at hand.

2. Less Effective: Time spent on the project (or: Effort)

Better: Work shows a clear improvement in technical quality over the course of the project.

3. Less Effective: Participates in class and critiques

Better: Student participates by coming to class and critiques on time and prepared, by asking questions and commenting being discussed both verbally and in writing, by completing homework as required, by helping to maintain the classroom workspace without being asked.

4. Less Effective: Craftsmanship

Better: The work shows careful attention to craft both in the application of technique as well as in the state of the paper/fabric the work was made with/on. (No torn or frayed edges, no smudges, etc.)

5. Less Effective: Strength of Idea

Better: The work shows evidence of intentionally exploring and developing a topic.

This entry was posted in Evaluating Student Work, Grading, grading in an inherently subjective field, grading individuals, Rubrics and tagged , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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