Students evaluating each other's drawings

I gave a colleague a very simple formative evaluation strategy that my drawing students at another school used in every class.  They gave each other awards. The awards were directly connected to the vocabulary.  For example, students put up their drawings, so first, there was a range of approaches to each drawing problem on display to draw comparisons from.  Each person had the list of the design fundamentals vocabulary and they could give awards only in the design fundamentals vocabulary categories. No goods, or greats, or I love its. 

Students could give a line weight award for a student who exhibited a variety of line weights in a drawing. To seal the award they had to describe the way the awarded element functioned in the drawing, one could call them form and function awards. "The thick weight of the line along the bottom of the feet (form) makes us feel the actual weight (function) of the model on the floor."  

So the awards served as formative positive reinforcement feedback for student strengths. Students would constantly try to give interpretive awards - "It looks like Master Chief." Which was not an award, but a lead-in to the question, "Why does it look like Master Chief? and they had to figure out what was giving them that impression, maybe a strong highlight showing light logic on an enlarged head - which was an award.  Even though the drawing was out of proportion with a blocky head, the unintended circumstances made it look like Master Chief by the use of the highlight. 

Eventually, I could pull back and if a student did an interpretation instead of a vocabulary award others would ask, "Why do you say that?"  The focus shifted from an up-and-down vote to analysis with the whole of design foundations to ponder — what design element was driving the interpretation and how did it function to earn an award.

My colleague felt that the vocabulary-connected award system was a way to open students to both analytical critique and vocabulary building in a non-critique seeming way.

So that is one way for students to give each other formative evaluations through a playful relaxed reflection.

I miss teaching drawing but this approach can be applied to most projects as long as there is a vocabulary set to select from.


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