I was introduced to reviews at Yale as a graduate student.
At the end of each semester, students signed up for a time-slot
and presented their work from the semester to the entire faculty.
Reviews were held in the office, and when the student entered
with their portfolio, a photographic timer was set for fifteen
minutes. When the timer went off, the review was over. The
review itself consisted of critical examination of the work
by all faculty, some general counseling and discussion of
the work and progress. I appreciated this approach as compared
to the practice of handing in work, the teacher putting a
grade on it and then returning it to me. If there was any
discussion, it was done through my initiative by going to
the teacher for comment, but that was always after the fact.
When I set up the Graphic Design program at the Minneapolis
School of Art in 1957, student reviews were incorporated into
the program with some changes. Rather than bringing a portfolio,
we gave the students space to hang or stack the work. A major
change was to give the student their grade at the conclusion
of the review. If there was any dispute or questions regarding
the grade, it was best to deal with it while the work was
there and all the faculty members present. The grade had to
be justified by the work. If the student was dissatisfied
with the evaluation, the work was reviewed again and shortcomings
were pointed out to the student. This process permitted students
to leave knowing the grade and not having to wait a week or
two for it to come through the mail.
Sophomore Spring review was somewhat different from that for
Juniors and Seniors. The Spring review was when faculty made
a decision to accept students into the upper level program.
It was entirely possible that a Sophomore might have a passing
grade but be denied acceptance into the program. The Sophomore
year could be compared to a one-year admissions test. I believe
the Sophomore Review and a policy of acceptance into upper
level classes are essential to a quality program in Graphic
Juniors and Seniors, we gave them the last week of the term
to redo and clean up their work for reviews. We posted sign-up
sheets allowing for about fifteen to twenty minutes per student.
We also allowed for a thirty-minute break in the middle of
the morning and afternoon. The reviews were spread out over
three to five days depending on the number of students.
procedure that worked best for us was to have at least two
rooms where three to five students could hang and lay out
their work in assigned space. When faculty had worked their
way through one room, they moved to the other. Students in
the first room took work down while a new group put work up.
This way the faculty evaluations could flow continuously.
were excluded from the room while the faculty examined the
work as a whole, discussed the students and arrived at a general
consensus about how each student should be counseled. Students
were called in one at a time and the work was reviewed. The
discussions were general and might include problems with attendance,
productivity, outside jobs, attitudes or behavior, and faculty
comments about the student work were usually blunt. In some
instances, the student was asked to leave the room while faculty
had further discussion. The student was called back into the
room, final comments and a grade were given. We always asked
the student if the grade was fair, and if the student did
not agree, there was another examination of the work with
the student present and the grade finalized.
student behavior or attitudes today is not always well received
by students. Many think this is being too personal and has
nothing to do with their schoolwork. I consider student attitudes
and behavior to definitely be part of the educational process.
But in dealing with these matters, I have encountered student
resentment as well as hate letters about me or the program
sent to university officials, charges of harassment, abuse
or favoritism. However, these actions represent a minority
of students. Other students have returned several years after
graduation and thanked us for dealing with these problems
while they were students. It is amazing what two or three
years working in the field can do to student perspective!
action in dealing with these concerns grew out of a remark
by James Cross. At Arizona State University, Jim was asked
to give a lecture, and at the end of his talk, he took questions
from students. One of the questions was, Now that it
is some twenty-five years after your education, as you look
back, what didnt you get that would have helped your
career? I am sure everybody was thinking his answer
would be something like drawing, color, typography or some
similar response. His reply was, social skills.
This remark fit in with my own observations in recent years.
had noticed that when students graduated, it was not always
the most talented students who were the first to get a job.
It was those students who presented themselves well, could
articulate about their work or goals and generally made a
good impression. There were extremely talented students who
experienced serious difficulties landing the first job because
they were so deficient in social skills. Some of the more
common faults we found with students were:
Students who were extremely shy. We often counseled these
students to take courses in public speaking or drama to overcome
the handicap. We also encouraged them to speak out more in
class or reviews.
Students who were consistently late for class or missed appointments
would probably do the same on the job. We brought this fact
to the students attention in strong terms.
Students who were argumentative or temperamental were likely
to act the same on the job and it would be harmful to their
Students who could not handle criticism of their work could
be predicted to have a difficult time working with supervisors
Students who were exceedingly slow needed to know that time
is a critical factor in professional practice.
Students who were sloppy with their work should be made aware
that it would count against them in the profession.
There were male students who had difficulty taking direction
from female instructors or they had problems with female classmates
that often resulted in inappropriate remarks or actions.