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Renée Smith
Assistant Professor of Practice

Class Critiques

Educators who teach studio art / digital media courses have class critiques to provide feedback to students. Class critiques are critical to students’ creative growth and is a tradition in studio courses. There are educators who believe that students should have class critiques during half of class sessions. Some prefer class critiques every other class session. Others prefer to reserve class sessions for class critiques only, while students work on assignments outside of class.

What are your thoughts?

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Donna Dolan

Posted on 8/16/17 12:42:24 AM Permalink

​ I do use class critique especially for the big projects. Often as the project progresses I have students who are around the creator to add some input or their thoughts about the project. When it comes time to class critique, I find that I have to set some guidelines so that the discussion stays on topic. As the years have progressed, teaching and using class critiques have gotten easier.

I don't want to stifle students creativity. I also want to encourage everyone to voice an opinion as long as it's got some academic value and is positive. I want students to be able to defend their work. It is made for some very interesting discussions.

Jim Palmieri

Posted on 8/15/17 5:36:08 PM Permalink

​I critique each class assignment at each phase of the assignment. I have each student's work displayed on a 120 inch screen (I place into PP beforehand) so all can see. My classes are all 4 hours and I at least an hour each week with this process.

I first have all students make comments without my interference, when they are all through I do my critique and suggestions. They respond well, but, you must actively call on some of them to participate.

I approach this as if they were junior ADs in an ad agency setting, and really try to challenge them, both in concept and execution.

Very valuable thing to do, I feel they all learn much from the critiquing process.

David Edwards

Posted on 8/15/17 5:09:46 PM Permalink

​How have people done with this in a high school setting. I find in my classes of 35-40+ kids it can be hard to coax them into 1. participation and 2. at the very least remaining focused on the class discussion. Unfortunately I don't spend a lot of time critiquing as a result. They receive feedback mainly from me and informally from their peers. I am currently moving to a blog based online critique format.

Donna Dolan

Posted on 8/16/17 12:36:28 AM Permalink

​ I teach graphic design at the high school level. I agree with David that it is very hard to get the class to participate as well as getting students to stay focused on the discussion. However, I keep trying.

Jason Machinski

Posted on 7/15/17 8:52:44 PM Permalink

​We are currently in the process of adding more critique sessions into our photography program, we have had great success with them so far. We usually use them for in class work and for some assignments. We are also thinking of implementing a larger group critique session with all the students and faculty and perhaps photographers from outside the program.

Renee' Smith

Posted on 7/21/17 11:38:08 PM Permalink

Thank you for your input! The more feedback students get the better. It is important that students get feedback from people outside of the classroom like other faculty and professionals in the field. I also think including students from upper levels in the program can be helpful.

Derek Dorsett

Posted on 7/1/17 4:49:06 AM Permalink

I think it depends on the context of the learning. Is it formal or informal? Obviously, if it is in a credit-earning context then critiques need to happen regularly. However, it may depend on what the standards are for your program. For example, in Texas, we have the TEKS, but a lot of other states use the Common Core. Further, I think that age plays a role in this process as well. So, in summary, it's hard to say that one size fits all. However, as a creator--I think it's important to have a safe space to create. After all, when it comes to true art there is not such thing as making a mistake. At least, that is my opinion. Some students crave feedback--so perhaps asking the students how they would like feedback could be constructive. After all, it is their education at stake.

Renee' Smith

Posted on 7/2/17 2:13:46 AM Permalink

Thank you for your feedback! It does vary based on programs. I think in academics, it is ​best to have as many critiques as possible to help students develop creatively and produce a strong portfolio.