Ellen Mueller

“Subject, Form, Content, Context” at CAA

by Ellen Mueller on February 4, 2017, no comments

I will be presenting on the Rethinking Foundations Studies Curriculum panel at the College Art Association’s annual conference Saturday, February 18th from 8:30 – 10 a.m. – to be held at the New York Hilton Midtown in the Madison Suite, 2nd Floor. My presentation will be about 15 minutes long, and below is a short description of the material I’ll be covering.

Subject Form Content Context


Foundations studies can be difficult to teach because of the wide ranging skills that need to be addressed — from technical know-how to critical thinking and research skills. In an effort to ensure these varied skills all receive the attention they deserve, I have developed a means of critique and evaluation that holds students accountable for four main components: subject, form, content, and context.

This presentation will discuss various ways to introduce and explore these components, including verbal and written exercises for both groups and individuals. I will also discuss rubrics based on these four components. Through this approach, students are held accountable for not only technical skills (form), but also critical thinking (What have they selected as their subject, and why? What is their concept?), and research skills (What does the student know about the context of this work?). This approach also helps students to better understand interdisciplinary work because it evaluates the work using the same framework used for more familiar media.

Altogether, this approach has been quite successful in helping students from a wide variety of backgrounds to gain the foundational skills necessary for success in upper-level courses.