Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Process and Progress Checks

I think one of the biggest challenges I have teaching art online is helping students mid-project as I would if I were walking around a brick and mortar classroom. Of my two courses, Art 1 is the most fast-paced, and I am able to see a student's growth and process as they progress from project to project as well as through practice sketches and one-on-one sessions. However, I rarely see an "unfinished" project before I see the final one. This is because students are generally completing one project per week and students often do not choose to show me what they are working on in this condensed time frame. Art 5 is much slower paced with artwork being created over many weeks as they are higher level, more independent, and aimed at portfolio development. Thus, this course became my guinea-pig for developing ways in which to see a student's artistic process.
This year I have instituted progress checks for Art 5 students where they check in several times throughout the process of creating a piece of art. It is important in an online environment when working with students individually, to plan out structured checkpoints and have clear expectations. Each project begins with a brainstorming sheet such as the one below.
Following the brainstorming sheet, students have a progress check dropbox where they submit their project at least once before the final project. Though I only require them to show me one time, my students have all chosen to show me their work multiple times for each project. These progress checks give me an opportunity to give each student detailed feedback through screencast-o-matic and dialog about their artwork on the phone or via email. Below are a couple examples of progress checks and final work.
The conclusion of this process is reflecting upon the piece and self-assessment. In Art 5, students are encouraged to grade their own work in order to develop their skills of selecting work for a portfolio. They are also asked to answer reflective questions which differ based on the goal of the project. An example of one is below.

Adding progress checks to my Art 5 class has been very successful so far and I am receiving higher quality work from my students and having more conversations about their goals for each piece and how they are effectively communicating their ideas. How do you encourage process-oriented thinking in your classroom?