Art Class Critique
Bartel © 2002
Teacher Instructions for
Response Form for Art Students
Empathic Critique: a search to discover what has happened in the work.
Note: For a printable Art
Critique Sheet student handout, click
For a page of explanation to accompany the student handout critique
For an Art Rubric used to assess art
the same as class critique), click
For a Rubric to Assess the Critique Discussion
and Writing about art, click
does the Teacher Do?
I have students display their work so every participant has a work up
discussion. I give some display guidelines for them to follow so the
looks good and work can be seen easily by all participants. Students
are not finished might use the time to keep working to finish. It is
found that students without work on display are not as interested and
are more apt to offer negative comments.
I hand out copies of the Artwork Critique Forms and they draw names
I introduce the process. I tell them that what they write will be
the person whose work they are describing, use the "platinum"
The Platinum rule is: "Try to write what you think that person wants
to hear". The Golden rule would be nearly as good, "What you
would like to hear."
If it is peer evaluation, I ask students to avoid all judgmental
I stress description, analysis, and interpretation. These are
that say what we see, why it makes an impression, and what it might
or how it makes the viewer feel. No one may say, "I like . . ."
"I don't like . . . " I ask them to simply say, "The first thing
I see is . . . " "This ____ stands out for me because of the . .
. . (size, color, brightness, placement, subject, etc.) contrast."
If this is a critique of an exemplar from art history, I do allow them
the end up with judgment after they have described, analyzed and
I ask students to jot down responses on the critique form. I
them to make a guess and to speculate if they are not sure what to
I encourage them use their imaginations.
I tell them they will get to see what other students have written about
If a student makes an observation that may seem a bit unusual, I try to
affirm something about it, and invite others in the class to offer alternative
observations. If I strongly disagree with an observation, I do
not argue the point, but I first see what other students might have
noticed. Often this takes care of it. If nobody
something important that I notice, I might simply say, "I
am still curious about something." I might say, "To
me it looks a little more dimensional here than here. Does anybody else
see it that way? Why might that be?" Or, I might say,
was wondering about the size of this item, what would happen if was smaller
or larger? Which would you try first?" Or, I
say, "What would happen if this
was brighter or duller? Which would you try first?"
To the extent that class time is available, I lead a discussion.
I call on class members to share their answers. I try to be fair by
about the same amount of time with each participant's work. If I run
of time, I apologize to those who have been missed. I promise to
start with them the next time. I try to keep my promises.
I often ask for other answers after the first student has spoken.
I like to get the alternative ideas out in the open for discussion.
I try to call on those who are quite. I may have to do this early
so they have a chance to talk before all the obvious responses have
After some discussion, the student who made the work is given the
of make comments.
At the end, calling first on a quiet person who has not said to much, I
for a summary and review of what has being discovered and learned
this discussion. If I habitually review it for them, they may
to depend on my thoughts rather than thinking for themselves.
do the Students Do?
Students select another student's work by some fair method so that
student's work gets at least one or an equal number of peer
After jotting down their ideas, they discuss under the leadership of
teacher. The teacher monitors the discussion be sure no one makes
or negative comments.
At the end they allow the student who created the work to see the form
before it is turned in to the teacher who can use it review student
and thinking skills.
Note: This page is for the art teacher.
For printable student handouts, click
here, and here.
Once a group of students has learned the process,
encouraged to conduct critiques on their own in small groups without
teacher supervision. This type of teacher-free learning is my
in art education. The more I can get students to ask questions
develop answers for themselves, the more I can expect them to be
learners who will continue to develop their artistic skills and
I encourage them to think like team members in the same way that
work in teams. Their goal is help each other so that every one
benefit from the practice. That means not hoarding the ball, but
being sure that each person on the team is encouraged to express their
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Teachers may make copies of the
for Art Students for educational and/or non profit use.
Teachers are also invited make copies of Notes
for Artwork Critique Form for their Art Students.
You must keep the copied by permission line attribution line with the
form when you copy it.
Also see Empathic Critique: a search to discover what has happened in the work.
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get permission. Your questions, suggestions, and comments are
appreciated. CONTACT the author.
UPDATED: January 2012