Educational research clearly shows that effective, quality feedback has one of the most significant effects related to student achievement. (Hattie, 2017)
Quality feedback, most educators agree, should focus on the product, not the student. Many also say that feedback should be clear about what is correct or incorrect about the student work… and in the cases of creative work such as writing, where there isn’t a clear right or wrong, it can let the student know what they are doing better than they did before.
So how does quality feedback relate to arts education, where creativity reigns supreme, and especially in the inquiry- or choice-based setting? How does the research relate to learning environments such as PYP classrooms and TAB studios, where students themselves, not their work, are the true educational ‘products’? Is there an place where quality feedback supports student creativity and agency? Perhaps some answers can be found in the very real global contexts that underpin both the PYP and TAB.
Let’s think about quality feedback is like in the authentic setting; in real arts worlds. Artists engage an audience, sharing their artwork in many ways, such as:
- traditional gallery exhibits
- social media, websites, online portfolios
- collaboration in communities with other artists
- blogging and vlogging about art processes
- offering workshops and marketing products
It seems that artists invite feedback now more than ever, that art is becoming more democratic through our expanding global networks. How can we encourage similar sharing-and-feedback collaborations in the school setting?
Art teachers can observe, monitor, and engage students in many ways during inquiry-based artmaking processes, including:
- provoking (What if…? I wonder…)
- encouraging (I see how you’ve grown…You can…!)
- providing & organizing (In our studio, we…)
- suggesting (Have you thought about…?)
- mentoring & modeling (As an artist, I…)
- facilitating (Here’s one way this could work…)
- reflecting (I notice…)
As we increase the emphasis on learner agency, we are facilitating student artists’ goals: What do they want to know and be able to do? Considering the learner as artist should, by and large, move us away from feedback that states what is incorrect or correct, what has been done right or wrong. As art teachers, we will need to tap into our artistic thoughts and intuitions, our artistic experiences and feelings. We won’t do this in order to require conformity, instead we’ll leverage our understandings of what it means to be an artist, in order to guide our students with empathy as they engage in artistic behaviors. We won’t need to tell them the way forward, rather we’ll teach them how to find it for themselves.
Ultimately, our feedback should serve to set the stage for student-driven conversations and monologues: exceptionally valuable forms of feedback, that allow learners to confidently advance their artistic journeys.
Here are a few ways we might facilitate art sharing that encourages reflection and enables quality collaborative feedback in the inquiry studio setting:
- Designate flexible student-curated display space.
- Collaboratively document artistic processes
- Purposefully observe and interact with artists during studio time
- Post (and encourage student posting of) online comments within learning portfolio platforms such as Seesaw
- Set up and encourage informal presentations in the studio
- Increase interactions with local and global artists and networks
(How does John Hattie’s research relate to creativity in schools? How might his ideas differ from thoughts on how feedback works in a learner-centered, inquiry-driven environment? Here’s one perspective. )
What other ways might we provide and encourage feedback that matters for creativity? What are the connections between presenting or exhibiting artwork and quality feedback?