Tips for Educators in Higher Education

Recommended Methods of Instruction
Break down complex concepts and processes into a series of comprehensible bits.
Encourage students by continually cruising the classroom and talking one-to-one.
Focus on skill development during class. Then, expand on class work by using inventive homework and sketchbook projects. We expect students to work 5 hours a week outside of class.
Present inspiring examples of professional and student works. These examples are the key to comprehension to many beginners. Show lots of options, so that students see a range of solutions.
Increase student ownership of their own learning progress through engaging critiques.
Use monologues sparingly. Contemporary students learn best when they are highly engaged.
Encourage students to become members of the art community by attending openings and lectures.
When appropriate, share your experiences as an artist. Show your work. Model how art history, the liberal arts, science, etc. can be integrated into the experience of art making.

Making the course compelling

Establish that you are knowledgeable, capable and committed. Arrive early and bring lots of visual examples, especially during the first month. If you get off to a great start, the rest of the term will go much more smoothly. Whenever possible, do a new assignment yourself a day or two before presenting it, then bring the resulting artwork in as an example.
Convince your students that what you have to teach is worth learning. Connecting fundamental skills in class to more creative homework projects helps beginners value the basics.
In critiques, remember to be instructive rather than punitive. Beginners are generally stunned by any type of criticism and often accentuate the negative. Start with positive observations, then provide multiple alternatives for them to weigh.
Be mindful of the delicate balance between your dual roles as taskmaster and as cheerleader. Set high standards, then do all you can to promote student success. Grade honestly! Everything is NOT beautiful in its own way and the sooner students understand that, the better. College-level art and design courses require the same level of engagement as college physics, philosophy, etc.
Have faith in your students and in yourself. Drawing, especially, is an accumulative process--a lot of practice is needed. The first month of work by a complete beginner can be astonishingly bad. Don’t give up: hard work pays off, and the work will get better.

When Things Go Wrong 
Despite your best efforts, some students will behave foolishly, especially in the first and last month of the term. Class clown behavior can even rear its ugly head. Simply taking the student aside and telling him/her that such behavior is unacceptable at the college level often solves the problem. When students complain about their grades, first talk to them one-to-one, describing more fully your rationale for the grade given and suggesting specific ways to improve the current project or subsequent work. Where appropriate, give them the chance to re-do the project or do extra-credit work. If this doesn't solve the problem, send the student to the Foundations Director, with a complete description of the assignment and all of the work done, including preliminary sketches. He/she may be able to provide another perspective on the problem and re-direct student energy in a positive direction.


*This is an excerpt taken from the Foundations Program, INSTRUCTOR’S MANUAL, Florida State University Department of Art & Design Developed by Mary Stewart, with input from colleagues from FSU and nationally