Visual Art Peer Critiques Reimagined
Shifting to an asynchronous presentation format allowed all students to actively engage and give constructive feedback on the work of their classmates
In a typical year, Art teacher Alice Shih-Kahn would spend two or three class periods having students present their “Music & Me” projects and engaging the class in a peer critique. This year challenged Alice to reimagine the format of these presentations and resulted in improved outcomes for all students to engage with the work of their peers.
Before dividing into this project, students learned about the connection between music and art in history. After being exposed to a variety of examples of visual art that has inspired music and music that has inspired visual art, students were asked to reflect on their own experiences and influences. The class then launched into a study of specific acrylic art techniques and vocabulary.
After this background, students were presented with the Music & Me project. The goal of the project was for students to create a visual from an auditory experience and understand that inspiration comes from many places. Music plays a significant role in many of their lives, it changes their mood, prepares them for an event and often helps them relax and find calm.
With all artwork, students are asked to also create an artist statement. This specific artist statement needed to address the following key points:
- Describe the role music plays in your life.
- What is this particular song important/significant to you?
- How is this painting a visual representation of your song?
- Is there anything else you would like to share?
After students completed their drawings, they were tasked with showcasing their project in a google slide presentation. Alice assigned each student in the class a slide to fill out, with space for an image of their art, the title of their piece, and a link to their song choice.
Students then added an audio recording of their artist statement using Mote. Mote is a Chrome extension that allows you to record a voice note and directly insert that voice recording onto any Google Slide or Google Doc comment without any downloading/uploading. By keeping the technology as simple as possible, students can stay focused on the learning task.
After students prepared their slide, it was time for peer critique. In the same Google Slides presentation, students were asked to choose three pieces to peer critique. Their task: 1. look at the painting, 2. listen to the song, 3. listen to the Mote artist statement and then, directly on the Google Slide, type a comment including:
- One piece of constructive feedback with a suggestion
- One piece of positive, specific feedback
- Necessary vocabulary related to the unit
After the peer critiques were complete, students had a chance to review the feedback their classmates had provided them. They were asked to create a Flipgrid reflection in which they answered the following questions:
- Is there a comment you agree with? If so, why?
- Is there a comment you disagree with? If so, why?
- Look at your painting objectively. If you could go back in time, would you change anything? If yes, be specific about what you would change.
- What do you think is the most successful aspect of your painting?
- What do you think is the least successful aspect of your painting?
- Describe your overall experience with acrylic paint.
With full class presentations, the first couple always felt lively and students had a lot to say in the oral peer-critique. However, this energy typically waned throughout the period so that students presenting later in the class period received less constructive criticism. By changing the format of presentations and peer feedback, all students were actively engaged in each component of the project. What’s more, the student-paced nature gave students a chance to view their classmates’ artwork for as long (or as little) as they liked. This provided students the time and space they needed, as individuals, for the peer analysis and feedback portion. Since students recorded their artist statements as audio, they were still able to share emotion and tone in presenting their piece to the class. Using Mote allowed this peer critique to happen asynchronously so that students could spend the time they needed viewing and reflecting on their classmates’ work.