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Varying the Critique

Here at Academy of Art University, the critique is an essential component of a student's education. The critique should be a dynamic, interactive learning experience for the entire class. But as with any classroom activity, it can become routine. If you are finding that critiques are becoming routine, your students probably are, too. Try varying the routine with some of the following ideas.

Think of new ways to keep the entire class active during the entire critique, not just the time when their own work is being looked at.

  • Assign some students as notetakers.  The student whose work is being discussed can engage in discussion while the main points are captured by someone else.
  • Have small groups of students offer feedback to each other while you are working with one group at a time.
  • Try a Gallery Walk Critique, where you post paper under each piece and have students circulate and write their comments on the sheets.

Incorporate "learning snapshots" into your critique—techniques which give you a window on the students' process.

  • Have all students write one thing they have learned on a yellow 3x5 card and one question on a blue 3x5 card halfway through the critique before break.  Address the general trends after break.
  • Ask students to tell you or write down what changes they plan to make to their project before the next class as a result of the day's critique.
  • Have students keep a critique notebook.

Online instructor Krista von Blohn, Web Concepts 1, suggests setting up an online peer critique as a designer/client roleplay:

  • One student acts as the client.
  • Another student is the designer, pitching an idea, explaining a concept and/or sharing:
    -two strengths.
    -how student is going to fix the things that aren't working. 

For detailed instructions on all the Critique Building Blocks such as The Gallery Walk, The Basic and The Critique notebook, see Critiques.

Marvin Bartel from Goshen College also offers some good advice on critique: 
http://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/critique1.html