Applying Critiques Beyond Art Courses

In this last month of the semester, we look for ways to help our students consolidate and articulate their learning. In this Tomorrow’s Professor post, Joanna Inman discusses how the art critique can serve in non-art courses not only as a model for assessing student-learning but as an active-learning method in itself.

Inman writes with non-art courses and projects in mind, noting that critique sessions provide a chance for faculty to model critical thinking and communication as well as to evaluate the acquisition of other essential skills cultivated in the course. She provides key points for planning a successful classroom critique session, including suggestions for projects suitable for critique.

Among her recommendations is to have students prepare notes before the critique, to ensure that the time given to each critique is equal, and to call on different students to lead each critique session, thus ensuring wider student participation.

To Inman’s list of best practices, this author would add a note to orient student-reviewers towards leading with the strengths of their peers’ work and regarding weaknesses as opportunities to refine skills. This appreciative approach engages the student-creators, cements the community of learners, generates genuine questions and dialogue, and directs the critique away from performance anxiety towards learning.