How does the art teacher assess a student's work?
First of all, there is a difference between assessment and
evaluation. Assessment is the "mechanics" of evaluation.
As far as an understanding of evaluation in art education is
concerned you could do no better than read Elliot Eisner on the
Evaluation involves you getting information about the child's work.
You first have to decide *who* will evaluate - you? The child? The
Next you have to decide the context - will you compare the child's
work with a set of standardized criteria, or with other members of
the class, or will you compare the child's present performance with
his/her past performance?
You also have to decide *what* you will evaluate. Will it be skill
development? aesthetic development? creative growth? or what? Skill
development is relatively easy to measure, of course. The other
areas are a little more difficult. Edmund Burke Feldman may help
Whatever combination of these aspects of art education you choose,
your choice obviously has to be based on empirical data. (Otherwise,
The most important point is that, in reality, when you evaluate
children's artwork you are actually evaluating your own art program
and your own teaching.
I believe *every* art program must be based on a firm set of
principles or rationales which demonstrate your understanding of art,
of teaching, and of children. Art programs based on firm principles
are of inestimable benefit to children. Art programs based on little
thought and on little understanding are probably damaging to
children. They are certainly damaging to the status of art in
If you are looking for ideas or thoughts on planning your art program
there is plenty of information available from the Getty Foundation or from your
national association (the NAEA).
To get back to the point: once you have established a sound
philosophical basis for your program you can obviously start
formulating aims/goals for it. For example, if you believe that one
of the rationales for your art program is to foster aesthetic
sensitivity in your students, then you can decide ways in which this
may be achieved - visits, visitors, having children explore artworks
in your classroom, getting children to develop a critical vocabulary
in this area, etc.
Once you've set down these more concrete goals it is easy to see what
you have to evaluate, isn't it? You can now discover whether the
children have developed a critical vocabulary, you can discover
whether the strategies they employ to explore artworks have become
more sensitive, more subtle, and so on. And you can do this for each
of the goals of your program.
Evaluation, then, is a means to measure the effectiveness of your art
program and your art teaching, via the children's artwork.
I hope this has helped you.
(Dr) Philip Perry