Art History Assessment for 2009-10




Art History Discipline Objectives [from the UMM Catalog]:

1)     To develop studentsÕ understanding of some of the historical traditions in the visual arts.

2)     To teach students methods of analysis and interpretation of works of art.

3)     To help students discover the rich and complex relationship of art to other aspects of culture.

4)     Students are encouraged to have direct contact with art by means of studio art courses, class field trips, gallery internships, and study abroad experiences.



I.  Gen Ed Assessment:

    ArtH 1101(Principles of Art, fall semester) was the only intro-level course assessed this year because Dabbs wanted to do further evaluation of the course, whereas ArtH 1111 and ArtH 1121 had been regularly assessed by Schryver and Eisinger (respectively) the past three years and the results had not demonstrated need for improvements.

DabbsÕ assessment involved a pre- and post-testing of the appropriate use of art terminology when writing a comparison essay on two works of art. Having students gain a more sophisticated and nuanced vocabulary by which to analyze and discuss a work of artÕs form and appearance (i.e. formal analysis) is a fundamental goal of this particular course and relevant to discipline objective #2. A random sample of 27 studentsÕ writings, comparing the same 2 works of art based on certain categories of analysis (i.e., composition, color, light/shade), was assessed. Prior to the instructional unit on formal analysis, students incorporated an average of 2.5 art terms in their descriptive analysis; on the exam (post-test), they averaged 13 art terms. Clearly this demonstrated significant improvement.  In the future Dabbs may specifically track the use of particular terms to see how well they are being comprehended, and/or compare studentsÕ abilities to interpret the expression of subject matter.



II.  Discipline Assessment:

     Our discipline assessment occurs each spring semester when senior majors are required to take ArtH 4901, Capstone Assessment of Art History (1 credit).  In 2010 the students wrote two 3-5 page papers, responding to topics concerning the major that we provided (appended here). For both of these papers students first submitted a draft to which their art history advisor responded, and then they subsequently turned in a revised version.  They also compiled a portfolio of their art history papers and essay exams for faculty review.


     Also as part of this course the nine senior majors met as a group with the faculty for 5 sessions:  1) orientation to the capstone; 2) three review discussions of particular methodologies used in art history; and  3) a final capstone discussion, which this year was limited to ½ hour as we had also invited an alumna to speak about her post-graduation museum internship experiences.


In 2009-10 we focused on two issues for assessment of studentsÕ experiences of the major:


1)     StudentsÕ abilities to articulate and implement methodological approaches in art history (relates to objectives #1, 2, and 3).

Direct measures:  faculty review of senior majorsÕ portfolio of papers, as well as assessment of how adequately students articulate their understanding of a particular method in our methodology sessions.


Indirect measure: studentsÕ responses to Assessment Paper #1 (questions 7 and 8) and their responses in the capstone discussion session.



      For the first time this year we implemented three separate 1-hr methodology sessions in our Capstone course. Students were assigned readings in L.S. AdamsÕ Methodologies of Art, which they found accessible and helpful. (The faculty were not satisfied with AdamsÕ presentation of the material, however, and are looking into another textbook.) The students overwhelmingly appreciated the methodology sessions and felt they should become an expanded part of our curriculum, perhaps even a separate 2-credit course that would encompass additional readings and the revision and sharing of research papers.

The faculty are seriously considering doing this as staffing allows. Due to this greater emphasis on methodology in the Capstone course, we noticed strong improvement in the discussion sessions on methodological approaches. The new emphasis on methodology also prompted a senior major to address both the identification and depth of understanding of methodology very directly in a paper she gave at the URS.



2)      StudentsÕ abilities to identify and articulate skills they have gained as a result of their art history studies and experiences (objective 3)


Direct measure:  studentsÕ articulation of skills on their CV/resume.


Indirect measure: student responses to Senior Assessment Paper #1(questions 2 and 3) and responses in the capstone discussion session.



       Students consistently needed assistance with identifying and describing skills in the CV/resume drafts that we saw. We had not provided them with any guidance for this beforehand other than a recommended reading in C. MaranciÕs A Survival Guide for Art History Students, so evidently more information and discussion is needed on this topic. We are planning to incorporate a specific session to address this as part of the Capstone course.


       In their assessment papers, students on average identified 5.6 different skills gained from their art history studies and experiences (individual totals ranged from 2 to 8 skills identified). Their discussion of these skills and their applicability to future experiences was in some cases much more sophisticated than in past years, which may reflect the fact that many of the seniors had had opportunities to work in the art history discipline as T.A.Õs, research assistants, and digital media curators. The skills identified most often included the ability to write more clearly and convincingly, greater confidence in public speaking, and improved research skills. These results are similar to what was found in 2008-09, with the exception that research was more often mentioned in the 2009-10 papers. Other skills identified included enhanced visual literacy; critical thinking; problem solving and evaluation; database entry and organization; digital shooting and correction of images for classroom use; teaching skills; listening skills; openness to diversity of opinions; and an enhanced perception of the visual environment around us.

We were unable to have a discussion of this topic in the capstone session last spring due to time limitations; in the future we may make such a discussion a priority, perhaps in conjunction with the CV/resume workshop.

Art History Capstone  (Spring 2010)


During the semester in which an art history major completes the program, he or she will be required to enroll in the 1 credit  Capstone Assessment of Student Experience in Art History, ArtH 4901.


Art history is a synthetic discipline in which students learn to approach a wide variety of aesthetic and cultural issues with different methods and from multiple points of view.  The purpose of requiring this assessment is two-fold:


           to allow students majoring in art history to reflect on the connections among the different courses and experiences they have had;


           to enable the art history faculty to evaluate the course offerings and structure     of the major on a regular basis based on feedback from students.


Each student enrolling in ArtH 4901 will be required to do the following:


1.          Attend and participate in the following discussion sessions ( in HFA 2), as well as do the following required readings from Laurie S. AdamsÕ The Methodologies of Art, 2nd ed.:


              - Wed. Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.: Orientation to the capstone


- Mon. Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.:  Methodology review #1: discussion of formalist and racial approaches to art historical interpretation (Adams, chaps. 2 and 4)


- Mon. Mar. 1, 7:30 p.m.:  Methodology review #2:  discussion of orientalism,

colonialism, and iconographic approaches (Adams, chaps. 4 and 3).


- Mon. Mar. 29, 7:30 p.m.:  Methodology review #3:  discussion of biographical, auto-biographical, and feminist approaches (Adams, chaps. 5 & 6).


- Mon. Apr. 26, 7:30 p.m.:  Culminating capstone discussion of student experience as an art history major.


[Note:  you are encouraged to read all of AdamsÕ Methodologies of Art this semester,  especially if you are considering attending graduate school]


2.          Collect as complete a portfolio as possible of the papers, essay and take-home exams, and journals from courses that you  took to complete the major, whether they were taken here or at another institution; turn in to your art history advisor by  Monday April 19  (it will be returned to you by the end of the semester).


3.                Complete both art history assessment papers in a timely fashion (see guidelines and due dates below). 


4.                Meet with your art history advisor to go over your resumŽ prior to April 26 (by appt.), so that we can offer feedback on how you might best articulate your art historical skills and experiences.  Please send a draft of the resumŽ to us in advance of this meeting.


Art History Assessment Paper #1


Draft due Fri. Apr. 2, 2010

Final version due Fri. Apr. 16, 2010


Please respond to each of the following questions.


1)     What opportunities did you have for direct contact with works of art as part of your art history coursework or extracurricular activities (including study abroad)? 


2)  What skills have you gained or improved specifically as a result of your art history studies/coursework?


3)      How might you apply these skills in the future, whether in further education, employment, or your personal life? [You might find it helpful to consult C. Maranci, A Survival Guide for Art History Students, Prentice-Hall, 2005, esp. the chapter ŅWhat Do You Do With a Degree in Art History?,Ó on reserve]


4)     How have you used your art historical skills outside of regular coursework (for example, as a tutor, T.A., a MAP or MSAF, UROP, internship, URS presentation, volunteer, etc.)?


5)     Were there skills or experiences that you wish you had gained, but did not? 


6)     Was there an area or chronological period of art history that you wish you had been able to study here at UMM?


7)      Considering your reading in Adams, the methodology reviews, and your course work, what methodological approaches do you think you have  been exposed to in your art history coursework?  (You do not need to indicate which course or professor.)  Which methodological approach(es) did you find most interesting and why?  In your response, describe and discuss a specific example of something studied in a course or a reading that you found especially illuminating.



*Note:  please email your draft paper to your art history advisor;  email the final version to all of us (dabbsj@morris... eisingj@morris... and schryver@morris...)




Art History Assessment Paper #2:  Narrative Essay of Your

Experience in the Major


Draft due: Mon. Apr. 5, 2010

Final paper due:  Fri. April 16, 2010


This paper is to give you an opportunity to reflect upon and synthesize your experience as an art history major at UMM as well as to give us feedback on the program of study. Simply craft a thoughtful, three- to five-page (double-spaced) narrative essay in which you address the questions below (and anything else relevant to the major that you would like to include):


-     Why did you become an art history major?  At what point in your college career (or earlier) did you make this decision?


       -     What is your main area(s) of interest in art history, and why?


-     What art history electives did you take, and why?


-     Did your classes in the major create a coherent picture of a portion of art history?


-     How did your art history classes relate to courses you took in other disciplines?


-     How did your studio art experience impact your understanding of art history?


-     Discuss some of the paper assignments (or other projects) you undertook and what you learned from those experiences.  Do you feel your written work has improved or matured?  Which of your papers do you feel is your best work, and why?  Similarly, which of your class presentations do you feel was your strongest effort?  What helped you to improve (or would you have liked more feedback)?


-      Have you shared your knowledge of art history with others, whether formally or informally? (explain)