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September 27, 2008



So in this age of collecting data and grading measurable skills I am required to use a rubric. I have done this for years but now I am being told that effort and use of class time are not measurable and we cannot incllude them in our grading. Do you use a rubric and is there a clever way to measure effort?



I assess participation as a separate part of the overall course grade. I don't assess effort as part of studio projects.

I'll admit that may not be appropriate at all levels but my students are in training to become professional artists. They need and deserve to have their work assessed on its own merits. A so-so drawing doesn't look any better because it took a lot of work. A terrific painting shouldn't be short-changed because it came together unusually quickly.

I'll tell you what I do assess that might be useful to you instead: ambition. When a student chooses to take on a more ambitious version of the assignment, I grade higher. We often discuss this in advance so everybody gets to think about and agree on what would make this particular assignment more, or less, demanding.

You could negotiate terms, e.g., "On the still life drawing, choosing a shiny or transparent subject is more ambitious" or "A self-portrait in three-quarters is more ambitious than a front view." Now you've got the students making thoughtful evaluative choices before they even put pencil to paper. And isn't that what assessment is really supposed to do?


What is art for one person might not be art for another person, so how can one find himself/herself mighty enough to great a persons art stely? Art can NEVER be grade. Art can not be grade.


Angelo, my role in the studio is to look at a student's work and tell them what an audience will see in it.

I'd love to teach art without grading it (and for more than a decade, I did). There are many good ways to give feedback, and I use them all, but in settings like a university we also use grades to communicate. A grade is how we tell the next instructor whether the student is well-prepared for their course. A grade is how we tell the school board whether this person knows enough to guide students of her own. A grade is how we tell the student how his development stacks up against peers and precedents.

Maybe art can never be graded, but art students can. It's like a swimming test: Please stand at the edge of the pool and watch my front crawl. Am I ready to safely progress to the next level? Or do I need to practise here in the shallow end for a little while longer?


if you beleive that art can never be graded then there should be never an art school. how can you learn something if you cannot be given feedback? it is true that many teachers will vary on the grade. but you learn different things from each one.

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