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May 2016 Subject Report Summary

Thursday 12 January 2017


The first subject report since the new visual arts curriculum has been implemented is now published. Subject reports are a summary of the last marking session with relevant comments on the material submitted for assessment worldwide. The full report, available on the OCC, is 21 pages long. I will summarize some of the main points for you here.

Exhibition Component

2D work was dominant, with some 3D work ranging from intricate constructions to simple crafts. Photography continues to be a popular choice of media but is often only superficially explored with little experimentation and investigation and to sustain it. Students wishing to present photographic work for their exhibition would be advised to include some contextual background in their Curatorial Rationale

Some students used digital media effectively but teachers need to help those students investigate new media practices being used by contemporary artists to fully appreciate the skills involved. The fusion of technology and art is an area that could be developed. Have a look at this page Emerging Media

Some of the stronger work presented was on a large scale. Scale is not referred to in the Exhibition Assessment Criteria but it can have a significant impact on the overall exhibtion. This depends also on how the work is curated and presented. See Methods of Display

Remember when submitting Collaborative artworks each student must clearly indicate in the Exhibition Texts which part of the work she is responsible for, or this can create confusion for the examiner.

Video pieces with audio. Audio remains an issue as examiners are told not to assess the sound element, only the visual aspect of the piece. (The page Sound Art opens a discussion on this topic if you wish to contribute.) Remember that all video files must be no more than 5 minutes long and within the recommended file size! E submission for Exhibition

Exhibition overview photographs should be clear and  informative, avoid including work that is not in the students show!

Additional Supporting Photos are not always neccessary and it seems some teachers felt the need to fill all the slots when this is specifically for those cases where an extra view is needed ( i.e. detail shot or different angle). One good ,clear photo of the artwork is generally enough!

Exhibition Texts should be used to specifically describe the medium used, as well as the intentions and inspiration when relevant.This can really help the moderator!

Teachers remarks should be helpful to the examiner, providing useful and relevant information referring to the artworks and the assessment criteria, not to the students personal life. Likewise no comment at all or ultra brief comments do not help the moderator. Marking comments should thoughtfully justify the marks awarded and not simply copy and paste the descriptors.

 Planning and Progress Form this form is not seen by the examiner and is not meant to justify the marks given by the teacher, it is solely for authentification purposes.

The Curatorial Rationale  is a new element of the course and presented problems for many students, who tended to write something more like the old " candidate statement", explaining their problems encountered, challenges, growth rather than discussing intentions, audience, curating decisons etc. the CR shouyld NOT exceed word count and should not include images. Go to Writing Guidelines for Rationale

Recommendations for teaching are, as expected, to find a balance between Structure and Freedom, giving students a foundation in  skills such as drawing, introducing them to new techniques, guding them in  Writing about Art , and providing a framework in which they can develop their own independent ways of working and thinking.

Comparative Study

In some cases, this new component The Comparative Study seems to have enhanced students learning considerably with excellent and insightful presentations. Those who had not been taught the research and analysis skills ( see Skills for CS and  Research and Practice ) did not fare as well, these presentations were largely descriptive, often based on opinion, and without a foundation of research. Choice of artworks is fundamental and thoughtfully chosen can help in creating insightful connections. Go to  Compare and Contrast . Trying to compare too many artworks can be problematic, and remember that students are comparing artworks not artists!!

Presentation tips: use at least a 12 point font and keep backgrounds simple, make sure any scanned pages are legible and handwritten text is clear.

HL students should analyse and reflect on the outcomes of the investigation, identify connections with thier own work ( and include examples), and explain how this impacted their development. This should be clearly related to the artworks investigated and with explicit links.

Referencing is still a problem for many and teachers should instruct students on proper use of referencing for all images and cited text. Go to Referencing and Citing Sources and Citing Images

Process Portfolio

The new  Process Portfolio  is a document of the students process and allows for greater flexibility than the old IWB in that the screens can include pages from the visual journal AND MORE.  This was not always exploited to the full and many students submitted perfectly legible journal pages with unneccessary transcripts, generating extra work for the student. See Process Portfolio Format

The art Art Making Forms Table requirements were not always met or documented in the PP, visual evidence is crucial, it is not sufficient just to write about a certain medium, visual examples are needed. Go to Documenting Process

Referencing continues to be an issue, students need to cite the work of other artists, ideas, sources, and label their own work as " my own work" Go to Referencing and Citing Sources


The strongest Process portfolios were considered as a whole, continuous experience rather than an assemblage of supporting evidence. It is not necessary to include documentationa nd discussion of every single piece of work done but to focus more on the devlopment, ideas, process, refinement and reflection of fewer pieces, whilst still meeting the art making forms requirements.

Students should organise screens in a manner that reflects the natural development of the work, not in order of the assessment criteria. Headings can be used to identify media or refer to a criteria, as long as thy are clearly understood.

As mentioned for the exhibition component, teachers should teach skills both in art making practices ( see Teaching Visual Skills) and in critical thinking and analysis, limiting more prescriptive assignments to early in the course, use open ended assignments as starting points, (see  Starting Strategies) and then allowing and encouraging students to develop individual pathways, exploring their own areas of interest in greater depth and breadth.

Teachers are to be congratulated for the enormous amount of work involved in delivering the new visual arts syllabus.

Go to Grade Boundaries for tables with this years grade boundaries for each component, a handy reference.


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