Nonjudgmental Critique

In a nonjudgmental critique, students bring their art work to one table. You can decide as the teacher whether it is optional for students to bring their work or if you would like each student to bring something. The pieces can be anonymous and nobody has to know whose is whose. Then the group discusses the art in a nonjudgmental way – i.e. students comment on what they notice about the piece without attaching a value to their statement (e.g. I notice that the artist’s use of line communicates emotion in this pice). The teacher might also want to mention that we don’t have time to comment on each art piece now but there is probably something we could find to say about each of them. At the end of the nonjudgmental critique the teacher can take in all the pieces and return them next class with a sticky note containing some descriptive feedback from the teacher.

With the nonjudgmental critique, the teacher can also do some formative assessment. You can check off everyone who participates in the large group discussion or you can ask them to put a dot next to their name on the attendance sheet if they spoke at the critique. You can then follow up with those who don’t say anything by walking around and talking to them individually (then you can tick them off as well). This fits with the idea of universal design – it doesn’t matter how the students share, you just want to make sure they can talk about their art.

You could also adapt the nonjudgmental critique exercise itself by displaying students’ art on the wall/board with a piece of paper next to each piece and allowing students to travel around the room and leave comments on the papers. This might work well for students who process through writing rather than speaking or are shy about speaking up in front of a large group.

* I would like to add into here some teacher prompts to get the discussion going in the non-judgmental critique as well as student responses.