What constitutes quality student work? A few conversations I've been a part of lately have made me ponder this question. It's an important one for art teachers because our value is often determined by the aesthetic appeal of the work of our very best students.
The first thing I think about when I consider a work's attributes is who made it. Making, of course, is the physical creation of the work but also the mental effort of planning and problem solving. Most of the art produced in my class room falls under two categories: projects and exercises.
The work in both of these projects is visually pleasing. They are well made and visually interesting. The ownership and the intent, for me, is what makes them outstanding. This is work that is expressive and personally meaningful.
When considering a works "quality", or lack of quality, what we should do is look beyond the technical skill, though that should be taken in to account.
We have to also look at the planning - was the student following steps planned by the teacher or did the student do the hard work of selecting the best materials and processes?
We have to look at concept - does the work say something, does it mean something?
When we think about quality we have to make sure that we aren't comparing teacher planned exercises to authentic, student directed work because there really isn't a comparison to be made.
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.