The Museum Response Paper template can be used as an assignment once or twice during the semester as a way to a) have your students undertake a concise written exercise that b) asks them to look closely at one object (or two if you’d like them to compare and contrast) and c) also asks them to engage with the museum or gallery space to make them aware of the cultural context in which they encounter objects in institutions. This template can be “set up” in class using the museum visit videos and Museum Observation Prompts handout.
This Formal Analysis Assignment provides some great ideas on how to guide students through formal analysis reminding them that the exercise is about looking and analysis and not research and analysis. Students are reluctant to trust their own eyes and their own opinions. For formal analysis papers they often automatically go to an outside source in order to further bolster the assertions they make in their papers. Kimberly Overdevest at the Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan has had great success with these prompts.
To research or not to research? Asking your students to undertake a research paper as part of the art history survey can be a tricky beast as the range of student experience with elements such as library research and bibliographic citations can be large and crippling. For most mixed-ability or required-credit survey classes, focusing on short papers with limited research allows you and the students to focus on finessing writing skills first. Always consider reaching out to the Writing Center on your campus – a staff member can usually make an in-class visit to tell your students about the range of services on offer which should include workshops and one-to-one appointments.
Presentations – either singly or in groups – can be a good way to have your students think about a class theme from a new angle. See the handout “How to give a great oral presentation,” which also contains a sample grading rubric so students understand instructor expectations as they prepare.
Writing Guides and Exercises
The “How To Write A Thesis” template is a useful handout for a class exercise post-museum visit, once students have picked their object and can think about what a thesis is and how to construct their own. As part of this in-class exercise, it might be useful to look at examples of previous students’ thesis statements on the Writing Examples PPTwhich includes anonymous examples of past museum response paper excerpts so students understand what a thesis statement, formal analysis paragraph, museum environment analysis, and concluding paragraph might look like (you can, of course, point out the merits and/or pitfalls of each example per your own teaching preferences).
Paper Style Guide handouts
The Grading Rubric handouts can be given out in class and/or uploaded to your Bboard, and retooled to fit your objectives for the written assignment.
Grading student papers can be done the old fashioned way (your students hand you a paper copy) or through anti-plagiarism software such as SafeAssign (part of the Blackboard suite) or Turnitin.com (your school may have a license – find out who the Turnitin campus coordinator is for more details). There are ethical considerations to using anti-plagiarism software.
Formal Analysis Rubric Grid
Research Rubric Grid
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