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Overview

Identifying key concepts and criteria, setting goals for a critique, and drafting key questions that should be answered are all foundational to a good critique. Spending time planning the critique activity ensures that the critique actually happens as you envision it.

Tips for setting up a successful critique

  • Review the criteria for the project before starting. The critique should always refer back to these criteria.
  • Plan how much time to spend on each piece and stick to it. Using a timer or assigning a timekeeper can help. Students whose work doesn’t get critiqued miss out on important feedback.
  • Be explicit about how students should present their work. A uniform format keeps presentations concise.
  • Tell students what you expect them to do while their work is not being critiqued. Consider assigning a critique notebook assignment or doing a learning snapshot to hold them accountable for what you expect them to be doing.
  • Build trust in the process by involving all students and letting them know that their input is valued.
  • Give students tools to participate—vocabulary crib sheets, rubrics or evaluation sheets, or specific questions to answer.
  • Build in time to think. Quiet time for students (and the teacher) to gather their thoughts and think through critique comments or answers to your questions yields better comments and wider participation. Think time is particularly important for students who are shy, or who do not have strong English skills.
  • Build in practice time. Have students present to each other, or share comments with each other in pairs before the large group critique. This practice is especially helpful for non-native speakers of English.
  • Limit feedback to the most important points so as not to overwhelm students. Highlight no more than 1-3 points well done and 1-3 points for how to improve.
  • Consider grading students on their participation during the critique to communicate the importance of it.
  • Point out work that completes the assignment most successfully.
  • Inspire students to do better. Let your students know that you believe in them. Reiterate that you are giving feedback on the work, not judging the students.
  • Vary the format of the critique.

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