The artistic grade book — A new way of grading could be beneficial to art students


Art majors at the University of Idaho don’t get as much credit and appreciation as other majors around campus.

Comparing homework to others, art homework takes hours on end to finish whereas students in most, if not all other majors, can procrastinate until the very last second. Time is an art major’s best friend.

Being an art major is difficult because multiple assignments are piled on all at once throughout one semester. Normally, three art classes must be taken in just one semester to stay on track, and to graduate on time.

As, elementary school students — let’s face it — we weren’t artists. Through these young ages everyone was graded the same in art class. Just for completing the assignment, we all got the perfect grade 100 percent. As we got older, the definition of art changed, and so did its greatness. In junior high, it became more of a choice if you wanted to pursue art as an elective. In high school, the pressure hit — art wasn’t just for fun anymore. It turned into a career.

Before coming to UI I was actively involved in art at my high school. I took drawing, painting, photography and AP art. I remember it being very difficult in AP art because our portfolio for the exam consisted of 24 pieces of art. These 24 artworks are sent to a series of judges that then number you on a 2-5 scale. If you meet the requirement for the college you are applying for, you get college credits for that AP art class.

The only problem with this system is the judges are anonymous, and everyone grades artwork differently. It’s difficult to work in the art field because it is biased to every single person and what they consider art to be.

The AP art exam for high schoolers took tremendous work, and to pass the UI exam, students must score at least a four in order to miss a few lower classes to knock off some lower level credits. Now this is just the 2-D Design Exam — there are many others as well.

Yet, being an art major in all realms, we are constantly critiqued. Maybe the artwork isn’t the right colors, the right texture, the right subject. Somehow along the way, art became what others define as art. It’s not necessarily what it is in our own eyes — art is in our peers’ eyes. What they consider art is correct. What our instructors consider art is correct.

So the question is, how should professors grade students’ artwork? We have the basic requirements for any other assignment just like any other major, but shouldn’t art students be able to bend the rules sometimes to let their creative juices flow?

A grade isn’t about rules though — it is about the time and effort put into the artwork. This is one thing our professors sitting in the classroom don’t see: the time taken out of class when we could be hanging out with friends, or possibly doing something to let our mind unwind. Instead, we do art.  Art majors pick this field of work mainly because it is their passion, but after a while it can get annoying, tedious and just draining because we want to get it just right for our professor.

Getting grades is a part of the college life. Just getting grades doesn’t prepare art students for real life. Famous artists aren’t graded for their artwork. They are put in galleries to be displayed and appreciated.

So at UI, I believe that art students should ultimately grade themselves, and review the

their artwork to the professor. That is what their grade should be. If a student works extremely hard on a piece of art that they fall in love with, they deserve that ‘A.’

Yet, trying this out may bring up some problems. Students may lie when they really didn’t put in that extra effort. That’s why the professor should ask their students what grade they deserve before giving the final grade. Even though it may seem like art students will lie about doing a great job on their art, we are much more critical of ourselves then many think.

Getting critiques and having someone tell you that they don’t like the result is very critical to an artist’s growth, but it shouldn’t go on for so long.

In order for artists to grow we also need to gain confidence in our own pieces of art, or else the growing will be stunted. Getting critiques is good, but we also secretly hope that you will point out the strong points in our artwork more than the weaknesses because we will want to pursue art longer.

Art students should still have that drive to be better, but not be taken down and feel like their artwork isn’t good enough to be put up in a famous art gallery. Believe me — it is.

Lindsay Trombly can be reached at or on Twitter @lindsay_trombly

Related Posts
No comments

There are currently no comments to show.