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.