The First Critique

My current critique practice, especially in my intro classes involves teaching students how to critique. I try to make each successive critique a step towards effective critique, which may take an entire semester to develop.

Several years ago I started having students put their first projects up on the wall randomly and instead of critiquing each student in their turn, I ask students to pick out the images they find most effective, no ownership attached. What results is a shorter critique session (so far no one has fallen asleep!), more attention paid to what’s working with successful images, and a greater incentive for students to be involved and pay attention at each stage of the process. I expect the students to be doing the bulk of the talking, my responsibility is to round out the critique, or provide indepth feedback that they might not yet know how to express.

Now that I am teaching a digital photography curriculum in intro, I have the students drop jpg copies of all their photos from the first assignment into a general folder. I project them as a slideshow and students yell stop! when they see an image of interest that they want to talk about. In this way, we emphasize that critical learning is for everyone’s benefit, not just the individual maker of the image. I have found that students are more likely to ask or answer questions about technique this way, especially as the images are so large and immersive when projected.

This entry was posted in Actively Engaging Students in Classroom, Critique, Evaluating Student Work and tagged , , , , by seszucs. Bookmark the permalink.

About seszucs

Suzanne E. Szucs is an artist, writer and educator living and working in Rochester, MN. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Illinois Arts Council Individual Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Individual Artist Grant, Szucs has shown her work widely. To see portfolios or link to articles go to: or Szucs has a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having taught since 1995, Szucs has held positions at a variety of institutions, from adjunct positions at art schools and community colleges, multi-year positions at two universities and is currently a full-time Instructor of Art, Photography at Rochester Community & Technical College. Her experience includes teaching across the spectrum of photographic practice and history and working with diverse demographics of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

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