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Assessment can be an overwhelming word. That word can put a lot of pressure on our students, and it can be perceived as a less than desirable task for teachers, too. When we think of assessment grades, rubrics, and tests might come to mind. But, assessment in the art room goes beyond this. It’s not just another written test; in fact, assessment in art can take the form of an experience.
The world interacts with art daily; it’s not just contained within the art room walls. But, are we giving this same experience to our students’ creations? One of the many purposes of art is to be shared with others. Yes, we share art in our schools by displaying it, you might even share it online with the art teacher community, but how else are you bringing art as experience to your students?
One of the easiest ways to encourage students to share their work outside of school is through take-home assessments. These aren’t your typical assessments, and they will show students how their artwork interacts with the world.
Discussing form vs. function in the creation of art always yields interesting results in the art room. Often, as you discuss the concept, students begin to recognize many objects they use or see daily as fitting into one of the categories. Once they start identifying this, it shapes their decisions and choices in the creation of a piece.
When creating functional pieces, it’s best to see how the piece will actually be used. For example, if your students create ceramic mugs, they want to know if they will function, so you’re going to have to test them out with a tea or hot chocolate party. But, let’s take it a step further. Students will show bias as to how their piece functions as they’ve put a great deal of hard work into their creation, so let’s have someone else test it out! Download an example for a take-home assessment for the creation of a clay mug.
The key to making this successful is that it shouldn’t feel like extra work for the family member who is completing the assessment. It should be a fun sharing experience between the tester and the student to open up a conversation about the artwork they’ve created.
The majority of art teachers spend their time curating and hanging up student artwork, rather than the students themselves. School days aren’t always conducive for allowing students to help display artwork, so the task is often placed on the art teacher. But, we do want our students to have the authentic experience of making decisions about where their artwork will be displayed. To ensure our students are actually doing this, why not make it an assessment?
For this take-home assessment, your students will be practicing the National Core Art Standard of “presenting.” Give your students the assignment to take home a piece of art they’ve created and display it somewhere in their home. While doing this, ask them to consider how their piece will fit into an area. They will need to consider the size of their piece, the aesthetic, and the overall presentation. The goal of this assessment is for students to practice thoughtfulness through decision-making. Once they’ve displayed their artwork, have them take a picture of it and either e-mail it to you or submit it on an LMS like Google Classroom. By trying an assessment like this, your students meet standards, and their artwork will find its way home, that’s a win-win!
Assessments don’t need to be scary for students or time consuming for teachers; in fact, they can be fun! Students want their work to be seen but might not feel as if it is valued. When we shift the decision-making process to students, it gives them ownership of so much more than their art. It gives them real-world experiences. By participating in these take-home assessments, students will begin to see art as an experience and how it does relate to the world outside the art room.
Have you ever done a take-home assessment with your students?
How do you encourage students to share their work with others?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.