The process of self, peer and instructor assessment at Alverno College is based upon development and presentation of a progressive model of portfolio assessments.

At the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of aesthetic engagement students present a portfolio of work they have developed over a period of time and across several classes. They provide evidence of their learning from various courses that form their major programs in Art, Art Education or Art Therapy. An external assessment reflects and integrates student learning across multiple courses at each level includes student self evaluation and goal setting and substantial feedback from instructors and peers.

This ongoing presentation process assists students in planning for future courses, developing and defining skills and concepts they want to enhance, articulating a personal career philosophy and preparing for professional uses of portfolios. External assessments are held during a final week each semester and allow students to demonstrate their learning to a wider audience outside of the classroom.

Beginning Level
At the beginning level, students examine and explain how learning about creative styles, art vocabulary, and fundamental art-making approaches leads into development of personal ideas and approaches to creative work. Students also begin to learn how to base presentation on specific criteria and how to look at their own and others’ work analytically, offer feedback, use feedback for future growth, and reflect on formative feedback. 

At the beginning level students begin to discover who they are as learners through taking multiple ways of approaching the problems and challenges introduced to them in fundamental art department courses. They explore concepts of creative domains and art making frameworks and begin to relate these concepts to development of their work and to themselves as learners.

Intermediate Level
At the intermediate level, students present, explain and evaluate a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge and use of art frameworks and vocabulary, and analyze distinctive differences of their major programs. Students integrate varied components of their programs of study through demonstrating behaviors consonant with effective professional practice in their major. Students continue to develop skills in using criteria in preparation of presentations, and in their own ability to analyze, interpret, and apply assessors’ feedback to advance their work.

At the intermediate level, students use a shared set of art making frameworks, creative domains and discipline vocabulary to present their work produced across several classes from the perspective of their individual majors.

Advanced Level
At the advanced level, students apply their disciplinary experience and expertise in Art, Art Education, and Art Therapy to create a substantial display or exhibit that shows advanced synthesis of practical and theoretical knowledge, particular to the needs of practice in their majors that meets advanced course outcomes of their major program.

At the advanced level, students present a selection of the best work they have created in their advanced courses in a group exhibit in the Alverno Arts and Cultures Gallery.  Art Education Majors may elect to present personal art, lessons plans or work they completed in schools or community agencies. Art Therapy majors may focus on psychological principles, themes of spirituality or cultural learning or may exhibit client work from community settings.   Studio Art majors may design an exhibition focused upon art production, personal aesthetic concepts or art historical influences.

Each semester a student developed assessment is provided for all art majors. This one day event is designed and facilitated by students. A group of art majors meets to explore ideas that would be beneficial to their learning.

Past midsemester assessments have included guest lecturers from community arts organizations, visits to museums, research on women in the arts, hands on art activities such as storyboard and collaborative video, self portraiture through photography, and art media explorations in artist’s books, dance and installation art.

Additionally, students have designed assessments that serve the community such as a quilting project for a clinic in Ecuador, murals to enhance the Alverno campus, a community metal pour and art works in response to a gallery exhibition on the civil war in Sierra Leone.

No matter what topic the student designers select, the assessment is designed to allow art majors to work together as a creative team, to encounter media and new ideas, subjects or concepts not offered in their classes.

Student designers gain valuable experience in writing post-secondary assessment instruments and providing classroom experiences to adult audiences. They also can receive a validation for level four effective citizenship through their participation in the Midsemester Assessment.