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Natasha Haugnes, Hoag Holmgren, and Martin Springborg

August 2018
PB 978-1-946684-49-3
CL 978-1-946684-48-6
eBook 978-1-946684-50-9




College and university faculty in the arts (visual, studio, language, music, design, and others) regularly grade and assess undergraduate student work but often with little guidance or support. As a result, many arts faculty, especially new faculty, adjunct faculty, and graduate student instructors, feel bewildered and must “reinvent the wheel” when grappling with the challenges and responsibilities of grading and assessing student work.

Meaningful Grading: A Guide for Faculty in the Arts enables faculty to create and implement effective assessment methodologies—research based and field tested—in traditional and online classrooms. In doing so, the book reveals how the daunting challenges of grading in the arts can be turned into opportunities for deeper student learning, increased student engagement, and an enlivened pedagogy.



Part I: Course Design and Preparation

Examining Your Own Beliefs and Biases

1.         Quantifying the Qualitative       

2.         Examining Aesthetic Sensibility 

3.         The Apprenticeship of Observation      

Knowing Your Context

4.         Novices and Experts     

5.         Getting Involved          

6.         Implications of Grades  

Defining Success in Your Course

7.         Course Design: An Overview    

8.         Course Design: Defining Goals  

9.         Course Design: Teaching and Learning Activities           

10.       Course Design: Assessment Criteria       

11.       Your Grading System: Math Matters      

12.       Ungraded Assignments 

13.       Scaffolding Learning Tasks       

14.       Soliciting Feedback      

Part I Supplementary Resources 

Part II: During the Semester

Communicating Goals

15.       Making Grading Expectations Clear      

16.       A Mutual Understanding of Progress     

17.       Clarifying Teaching Methods    

18.       Choice of Graded Projects         

19.       Office Hours    

Emphasizing Process over Results

20.       Making Creative Process Explicit          

21.       Redefining Effort         

22.       Problem Finding           

23.       Generating Ideas and Brainstorming      

24.       Aha! Moments 

25.       Grading and Mistakes   

26.       Contemplative Practice 

27.       Famous Artists’ Early Work      

28.       The Artist-Apprentice Dynamic 

29.       Grading Participation    

30.       Grading Discussions     

31.       Self-Assessment and Creative Process    

Teaching Content and Skills

32.       The Language of the Discipline 

33.       Assessing Research      

34.       Skills-Based Assignments          


35.       Creating Rubrics           

36.       Using Rubrics   

37.       When to Introduce a Rubric      

38.       Student-Generated Rubrics       

39.       Rubrics for Peer and Self-Assessment    

40.       Common Rubric Pitfalls 

The Critique

41.       Structuring the Critique 

42.       Critiquing in the Online Environment    

43.       Peer Critique    

44.       Art Directing vs. Critiquing       

45.       Critique Journals          

Part II Supplementary Resources           

Part III: Post-semester

46.       Requesting Feedback on Your Grading  

47.       Post-semester Community: Moving Beyond Assessment 

48.       Reflecting and Planning for Next Semester        

49.       End-of-Semester Evaluations    

50.       Norming Your Grades  

Part III Supplementary Resources         



Natasha Haugnes, currently at the Academy of Art University and California College of the Arts, has worked in art and design university settings for twenty-three years and has authored two ESL textbooks.

Hoag Holmgren has worked in the field of faculty and educational development for over twenty years. A former creative writing instructor, he is the author of the poetry collection p a l e o s  and No Better Place: A New Zen Primer, both published in 2018.

Martin Springborg is a faculty member in the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities, where he teaches photography and art history.


"A rich resource for educational developers.”
 International Journal for Academic Development 

“Fills a significant gap in the teaching and learning literature. I am particularly impressed with the ability of the volume to serve simultaneously as text, guide, and reference, and suspect that artist-teachers will find the same utility.”
David Chase, coauthor of Assessment in Creative Disciplines: Quantifying and Qualifying the Aesthetic