Posted on 02/18/2016 at 10:28 AM by Blog Experts

I attended the Art of Education’s Winter online conference and discovered many new ideas and helpful hints. In one session, Jean Barnett discussed grading. This was interesting because grading for any teacher is difficult, but particularly for fine arts teachers. Do you grade effort? Ability? Neatness? Jean asked all of these questions before she discovered TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior).

TAB focuses on teaching what artists do, how artists behave, what artists do to get from start to finish. Students are taught to recognize each step in them and to recognize the steps in others. They are expected to do the work of artists and to direct their own learning. TAB stresses process over product, even though product is still important. TAB has a homepage, and a Facebook page for the different regions of the country. The Midwest page can be found here:

Melissa Purtee, an art teacher from North Carolina, blogged about this on Art of Education: She quoted Olivia Gude who believed that we should not grade artwork at all, but rather student learning. If we grade artwork, we typically grade how well students followed the directions, and how well the student applied the media or the process. We should rather look at how students process artwork, how they develop ideas, solve problems, organize concepts and make decisions. We should look at how students analyze, evaluate, and interpret works of art and culture.

In her session, Jean Barnett explained how she developed this process. She has her students blog about artistic behaviors every week. She keeps a binder of the assessments—one for each student for the grading quarter. Students have a smaller version that allows them to reflect on her comments. She felt that this process really showed her how the students were growing, as well as showing students where they were in the artistic process and where they needed to focus next.

The assessment has four levels: emerging, progressing, meeting, and exceeding. She indicated that you could assign points for each level if you needed to provide a letter grade:

  • Emerging – 75
  • Progressing – 80
  • Meeting – 90
  • Exceeding – 95 – 100

The artistic behaviors that Jean has her students analyze, evaluate, discuss, and work on are the following:

  1. Artists create original art
  2. Artists observe
  3. Artists develop art-making skills
  4. Artists research
  5. Artists have a global awareness of art making
  6. Artists communicate through their work
  7. Artists reflect
  8. Artists collaborate/community
  9. Artists plan
  10. Artists take risks
  11. Artists solve problems
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