A Guide for the Perplexed
Edited By Judith McVarish and Catherine Milne
Chapter 8 Articulate and Activate: An Approach to Self-Assessment in Theatre (Joseph Salvatore)
In my years of teaching theatre education courses to pre-service and in- service arts educators, the idea of assessing student learning has consis- tently perplexed and intimidated my students. Part of this confusion and fear comes from the difficulty that most teachers have with articu- lating and assessing learning outcomes in an art form like theatre where the work is ephemeral and “of the moment.” Classrooms in the arts often designate the teacher as a master in the field of study, and students look to the “master teacher” for feedback about their mastery of the art form, often in the form of a declaration about something as “good” or “bad.” I resisted this positioning of myself as the master teacher for many years, as I did not feel like it embraced a progressive, construc- tivist pedagogical approach. I did not feel comfortable telling students that their artistic work was “right” or “wrong.” However, I have come to realize that students want direct feedback about their work, and if I am sending them out into the world as “masters,” I owe them that feedback as well. Assessment in the arts is a tricky endeavor because of the subjectiv- ity involved in assessing a student’s artistic output. Who is to say what Chapter 8 Articulate and Activate An Approach to Self-Assessment in Theatre Joseph Salvatore b_text_T4.qxd 1/15/2014 8:36 AM Page 115 constitutes a strong acting performance? Or an exceptional costume design project? Or a clear and cogent lesson plan...
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