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Why is this important?

Posting and review assignment criteria before beginning a critique reminds students of the expectations for the assignment. It engages their critical faculties by focusing them on the essentials you will be discussing and provides a clear focus and structure for the critique.

Try these strategies:

  • Briefly review the assignment criteria before starting the critique. These criteria are clear in your mind, but students may have forgotten them. Take a few minutes to remind students what the criteria are and to review some of the core vocabulary they should be using.  

    • This practice engages students' critical faculties by focusing them on the essentials you will be looking for.

    • Often students will notice an area in their own work that needs development just before the teacher comments on it. Being reminded of the criteria can facilitate these epiphanies.
  • Post the assignment criteria where everyone can see. Keep the criteria visible throughout the critique session, as a means of framing the critique and guiding everyone’s thinking. And if the feedback begins to drift off subject, you can catch yourself by referring back to the posted criteria. This approach helps to keep the critique focused and on track.
  • Periodically, stop the class to point out common issues that come to your attention.  As students are working and you circulate around, you may notice a variety of things that you will need to bring to the attention of the class. For example, if many students are doing something incorrectly, you will need to re-explain or re-show. When this happens, stop the class and grab the students’ attention to clarify things to class as a whole. This may involve the need for a quick review, a short demonstration of tips and tricks, etc. 

Keep in mind that beginning students haven’t had the chance to develop a critical mind in the subject matter yet, so the quality of their feedback is usually limited to surface-level comments, such as what they like or dislike. 

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