Assessment with Susy Watts

A few weeks back I was privileged to attend an absolutely incredible workshop at Marwen with Susy Watts concerning the can-o-worms topic of student assessment. I took home pages of notes, a surprising amount of enthusiasm, and a jumble of new teaching innovations. I will hands-down-unequivocally state that the professional development seminar led by Susy Watts on assessment and arts-learning was the most valuable I have ever attended in my five years of working for arts non-profits in Chicago. Here is a small collection of what I feel were the highlights (I am sure I am going to leave some out, so please feel free to add your favorites in the comments section!) 1. Assessment is not a bad word; it is not a sterile, clinical method of dissecting success or failure. Rather, assessment is the word cialis price in mumbai we use to describe our measurement standards for all sorts of different outcomes. We are constantly assessing throughout our generic pharmacy day, although it’s unlikely we eat lunch a coworker generously shared and say,

“Upon assessing this taco, I find the tortilla to be brittle and dry and the seasoning bland. I would mark this as a C- at best”.

Which leads to the next point… 2. Assessment must be fair. Let us assume your coworker did ask you opinion on the taco, your assessment should be based on a set of standards that are the same for everyone.

“Did you tell your coworker their tacos were subpar because personally they annoy you and like bad music? Are you basing your criteria for a great taco on your mother’s cooking who you hold as infallible and in reality no cialis success rate other taco can compare? Have you even had a taco before?!?”

3. Assessment deserves clarity. A student should know what success looks like and we as teachers must strive to make clear our standards for that success. It is a disservice to a student if during a photography critique I constantly complain of poorly composed and irrelevant subject matter when the assignment was based on darkroom technique (print exposure and contrast). The student may have excelled at darkroom craft, yet I lead them to believe they did not succeed because I was assessing them on standards that were not a part of the original assignment, which is both unclear and unfair.

“Hey fellow coworker, how do my tacos taste?”

“Ugh! What gives with the crooked line of sour cream and non-spherical cherry tomatoes? This taco is pretty ugly, Bob!”

4. The purpose of assessment is to make us obsolete. If we give students a set of standards by which to determine success, and if those standards are clear and fair, then eventually the student will internally assess their own work. Most of us perform this “internal-art-audit” every time we work in the studio, but it was a habit and process that took years of schooling and personal dedication to build. Assessment is a much for the teacher as it is for the student, with the final goal being personal critique.

“Firm and flavorful tortilla, robust and well balanced seasoning, easy to hold and contents do not spill; I would say this is a very successful taco!”

Jesse Avina About Jesse Avina
Jesse Avina is a teaching artist who received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008, and upon graduating was granted the Daisey Soros Fellowship to study in Salzburg, Austria. His work frequently deal with issues of violence as mediated entertainment, and seeks to discover whether fantasy can be the best mode for examining our convoluted relationship to representations of war. Jesse has exhibited his photography, video, and sculptural work nationally and internationally, and currently lives and works in Chicago.

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