Adapted with permission from the Ohio State University 2001
Studio situations present their unique challenges to teaching. Often, especially in performance areas, personal judgment becomes significant and the instructor has some methodological or philosophical questions to answer before the course begins. The following guidelines may help in the construction of your studio course:
Plan ahead. Like other courses, performance classes need to be planned carefully. Instructors must determine and communicate to students the roles of talent, level of achievement, attitude, effort, and attendance. One major dilemma is the relative importance of process and product in the course. Does the instructor care only for the quality of the final performance or artwork produced, or is she or he equally (or more) interested in how the accomplishment was achieved? Such issues require serious consideration while the syllabus is being developed. Whatever the decision, the instructor has to make sure all students have an attainable goal for the course, regardless of how much talent or inherent ability they may have.
Measure the learning process. How will learning be measured, both for evaluation and improvement? Besides personal observation and assistance, dancers or actors may be asked to keep a rehearsal log, or artists may be asked to keep a journal listing the dates and reasons for major breakthroughs in the project. Instructors might give quizzes on readings or require students to turn in rough drafts, plans or outlines as ways of documenting process.
Provide constructive and sensitive feedback. Maybe more so than in other disciplines, students have a large emotional investment in their projects. It is imperative to limit criticisms to aspects that students can do something about and help them overcome the barriers that only appear insurmountable.
Work to recognize potential. Some students will be obviously talented in the studio areas, and others will have abilities that are not yet apparent. It is the teacher’s job to encourage that talent and refrain from making snap judgments.
Remain neutral. Often, a teacher may adopt the role of a parent in performance areas. While nurturing students is important, it is equally important not to be patronizing. Retain as much neutrality as possible when it comes to students’ performances and artwork by not becoming too emotionally or personally invested in their creative growth as artists. Students should feel sufficiently supported, but not overly pressured by their instructors.
Gary Woodward of the Kansas State University Art Department provides the following tips for studio classes (Adapted from the Kansas State University, 2000):
- Make students aware of any safety instructions.
- Demonstrate techniques when appropriate.
- Use handouts for background information.
- Follow studio problems with a formal critique of student work. Critiques assist students in the anticipation of evaluation criteria and its application to future assignments.
- Individualize comments on student work or performance.
- Try to visit each student more than once during each studio session.
- During the process of development of student ideas, use a specific student’s work or performance to demonstrate general principles to be applied to specific creative problems.