Pedagogy Students and Teachers page 5


Student Reviews (continued)
Sometimes egos were barriers to realistic self-evaluation. On these occasions, a favorite ploy was to ask the student to evaluate themselves in relationship to other students on a scale of one to ten with ten being high. Invariably, the student would see themselves as somewhere between 8 and 10. Faculty members would each give their rating which was generally 3 to 5. The perception gap was made clear to the student and they were cautioned that such misjudgments could have serious consequences in professional practice.

I feel strongly that all of these concerns fall within the purview of teachers, and they should be dealt with as part of the educational process.

By having students put all the work up at one time, it was easier for students to see interrelationship and carry-over from one class to another. Design connections or transfer could be pointed out to students by the faculty. Students could see the work as a whole rather than as an aggregate of separate projects with different teachers.

Students had the benefit of input from the entire faculty and grading was more objective. It was difficult for students to attribute a low grade to a personality conflict with one teacher – they had to deal with the entire faculty. It kept the focus on work as the basis for grading. Students met the entire faculty early in the program and were familiar with them prior to being a student in their classes. This made the transition into new classes easier for students as they moved through the program.

It is extremely important to reviews that all faculty members participate. There should not be a situation where faculty dash in and out of reviews, miss some altogether or sit in but do not comment. Students are sensitive to situations where teachers do not attend or comment. This is one of the best opportunities for teachers to demonstrate their dedication to the educational process and students.

Beginning students normally suffer trepidation about reviews and are easily intimidated. However, as they move through the program, they gain confidence, and eventually they learn to defend their work. I believe that in many respects, reviews helped to condition students for handling job interviews, client dealings and design presentations after graduation.

In addition to fairness for the student, there are multiple benefits from the review process in terms of teacher development. One advantage being that every teacher knows what every other teacher is doing in class. Another is that teachers are aware of what students have done before they reach their classes. Because teachers know what students are doing in other classes, it becomes easier to reinforce one another which is to the ultimate benefit of all students. Teacher participation in reviews also leads to development of a common vocabulary of terms with consistent definitions.

Some teachers tend to grade high, others low, but in the review procedure, there is improved consistency in grading by all teachers. I know it has been true for me, and I suspect it is true for all participants, but the review process is a great learning situation. Seeing work from other classes, listening to other teacher’s comments and evaluations and seeing how they handle students were enlightening and added a great deal to my own education. Spending three or four days going through a hundred plus student’s work at the end of each semester is a formidable task and wearing, but I think the benefits for everyone are sufficient to make it worthwhile. Faculty reviews to evaluate student progress should be more extensively used than they are now.


Student Records
In every program in which I have been involved, there always has been a high rate of attrition, and this is normal within a professional education. Usually the largest number of students withdrew or were dropped in the Sophomore level; four to six as Juniors and two or three as Seniors. Overall, there would be a forty to fifty percent attrition rate over the three-year period.

At the Minneapolis School of Art, I soon encountered problems with failed students or their parents. Other than grades, justification for failing students came down to the teacher’s word against that of the student, and for me, this was an untenable situation.

My response was to develop a form which accommodated all the Graphic Design courses and teachers. Each course had a separate space for a grade and teacher comments. The student’ name, date and grade level were also recorded. At reviews, the forms were filled out, and they were kept in alphabetical sequence in a loose-leaf notebook. As the student moved through the program, the forms accumulated. The notebook moved from one teacher to the next as students moved ahead. Each new teacher could monitor the student’s progress to that point with all the previous teacher’s comments. In dealing with either students or parents regarding grades or being dropped from the program, the records were invaluable and certainly eased our previous problems with justifying faculty action.

The records were also helpful in supplying information for job references after students graduated.

Over the years, the forms were further refined. We eventually made a separate form for mid-term reviews. The mid-term procedure we most often followed was to have the students stack the work on their desk during the scheduled class-time including a sheet of paper with their name on it. The students were not present when the teacher went through the work. The instructor wrote comments and gave a tentative grade for each student. These were copied with one copy left with the student’s work and the other put into the record book.

Keeping these records did mean extra work for teachers but it kept students informed, and generally, the procedure was well worth the effort.


Student Work Records >

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