The Art Group Crit. How do you make a Firing Squad Less Scary

Peter Day

Abstract


The relationship between achievement and feedback and the fact that effective feedback improves achievement is well documented (Taylor and McCormack, 2004; Hattie, 2007). This is especially true of written feedback.  However in art and design education feedback will take place in an often emotionally charged face-to-face meeting where verbal criticism, both negative and positive, takes place in front of an audience. The forum for this feedback in art education is the Group Crit (Crit, Art Crit, or Group Critique) at which students are expected to present and perform. It is the students’ reception and perception of this oral feedback in today’s quality-focused context, which is at the heart of this study.

This article presents a study into the impact of verbal feedback on achievement in art and design education via a survey taken amongst 60 undergraduate art and design students, at the University of Institution in 2009/10. The survey collected both quantitative and qualitative responses and identified a fundamentally emotional and fear-focused perception of the Group Crit, one opposed to its supportive and bespoke dynamic intentions. A stress factor (Pope, 2005; Anthony, 1991) is created when personalised feedback is perceived as a negative (critical) reflection on the student performance (at the Crit), their self worth and esteem and not the work presented. Criticism, and by implication feedback, is perceived as negative, personal and subjective and fraught with contradiction and loss of ‘respect’ - in opposition to the students’ previous prescriptive and ‘objective’ educational experiences.


Keywords


Art (Crit) education, verbal feedback, assessment, emotion (fear)

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ISSN: 1759-667X