Posted in GAP News

ARTSEDGE: Do Tell: Giving Feedback to Your Students

This week’s featured lesson from ArtsEdge, the Kennedy Center’s educational media site, explores a common question in teaching the arts: how to give feedback to your students. This helpful overview is a Fact Sheet on their How To section. Learn more about Thinking Outside the Test after the jump!

Responding to student artwork and performance is one of our significant responsibilities as arts educators. Done well, feedback provides students with tools for successfully engaging and creating in the arts. Here are seven suggestions for educators to consider in responding to student artwork and performance.

  1. Ages and stages. It’s important to know how students respond to and understand their artwork from a developmental perspective. Howard Gardner, author of Art Education and Human Development, reminds us that children have developmentally different responses when it comes to understanding art. Early elementary student artists tend to respond to the arts in concrete and literal terms. They may react to the content of the work or the size as indicators of quality. Upper elementary student artists will look for definitive guidelines to tell them what is “good” and what isn’t. Teen artists will often be relative in their responses to quality in creative work. They may argue that indicators of quality are subjective. In other words, who is to say whose opinion is right? For each age and stage, clear assessment criteria will lead to appropriate feedback.
  2. Get beyond yes and no. The types of questions we use with student artists greatly impact their learning. Open-ended questions are crucial tools in the development of a student artist. Broad questions encourage young artists to reflect and articulate about their artistic thinking and process. These skills of critical thinking, analysis, and reflection will not only make better artists, but will also have a positive influence on their success in other areas of the curriculum.
  3. Be specific. When responding to student work, specificity matters. Share your expertise by being clear and thorough. This is important for both positive and negative feedback. It keeps students from generalizing and focuses them on the key issues. Aligning the feedback with instructional goals helps students see “the big picture” and how feedback fits in. Another suggestion—periodically check for understanding.
  4. Respond timely. Responding to student artists quickly (but not hastily) is key when the work is fresh for them, particularly in performance. Timely feedback is most effective for student artists and performers. Professional performing artists receive regular—and immediate—notes from choreographers, conductors, and stage directors. Learning how to take feedback and utilize it well is an important professional skill for an artist or any other professional.
  5. Using your feedback. Lots of your time and energy goes into responding to student work. Help students make the most of your feedback. Provide opportunities to answer their questions about your comments. Build the use of feedback into assignments and instruction. Feedback—both receiving and utilizing it—should be part of “business as usual.” Specific ways in which a drama teacher can respond to student work can be found here.
  6. Self-assess. Sometimes the important thing to say to a student artist needs to be said by the student artist. Build in frequent opportunities for students to reflect on their work. Taking their self-reflection seriously and holding them accountable for it builds an important artistic muscle.
  7. Differentiate. Different learners may need different types of responses to their work. Weave in both written and oral feedback. Consider the unique needs of reluctant students, as well as English language learners, and special needs students. Successful students also need feedback. These students have developed a commitment to the art form and feedback supports their artistic growth and maturity. Your responses continue this.

Good teacher feedback helps students make choices, form an opinion, and build student autonomy both as artists and young people. The arts classroom is uniquely positioned to provide this feedback and nurture students in these ways.

via ARTSEDGE: Do Tell: Giving Feedback to Your Students.



The mission of the Greenville Arts Council is to promote the rich cultural heritage of the region and stimulate and encourage cultural activities, arts appreciation, arts education, and the creative works of artists. Some of the responsibilities that help define the Greenville Arts Council as the primary promoter of the arts in our area include offering art classes to children and adults, organizing community events, presenting an ongoing series of free exhibits featuring visual artists from the area and the state, and coordinating educational programs which teach arts-integration in local schools. The Greenville Arts Partnership between the Greenville Arts Council, the Greenville Public School District and our three community arts partners, Delta Center Stage, Delta Symphony Association and the Delta Children’s Museum, is focused on full arts integration in the GPSD elementary schools. Plentiful research documents the value of the teaching in and through the arts to help students understand core academic concepts on a deep level. The partnership was the first in the state of Mississippi accepted into the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program in 2003, joining over 100 other partnerships between school districts and arts organizations across the country. The partnership provides professional development for teachers, arts experiences for students and resource and referral on arts integration issues. Professional development has been provided in two ways, through workshops with Teaching Artists from the Kennedy Touring Roster and grade-level and/or discipline-specific professional development with our local staff. We present a series of model demonstration lessons to teachers in grades K to 6, demonstrating connections between Partnership free arts programming and required state frameworks. The partner arts groups present a series of live performances allowing each elementary child in the GPSD to attend at least once each year. The groups work with the Arts Council staff to develop accompanying curriculum-based educational material for distribution to teachers prior to each performance. Over the years, we have succeeded in providing basic arts integration training district-wide as well as in-depth professional development to allow groups of teachers to increase their level of mastery.