The Visual Arts Subject Report for the last May session is in the shops now! (Not really – see the end of this post for how to get it.)

This document is not a hypothetical aspirational document; it’s more of a reaction to and reflection on the things that you (teachers) uploaded for assessment. It’s a report and its based directly on the experiences of examiners, so it is valuable in a real and practical sense.

It can be an interesting and revealing read and sometimes reminds us of things we had forgotten.

Many things caught my eye, but I have highlighted seven in particular. These relate to all three visual arts components.

Subject Report (The Magnificent Seven)

(Well. OK, not really magnificent, but anyway – here are seven points from the Report.)

1. Grade Boundaries

The overall visual arts course boundaries have been adjusted! This is a rare event for us. In almost all other subjects there is a continual adjustment of grade boundaries often based on candidate performance in each session. This visual arts adjustment was made because of an adjustment to the grade boundaries for the process portfolio component and the re-wording of the assessment criteria (applied for the first time in this examination session).

2. Comparative Study point 1:

EVALUATION OF CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE was among the weakest areas for most candidates. There is not much point referring to art movements in a generic way without highlighting their significance to the artwork. An evaluation of cultural significance will probably include an art historical context, as well as the cultural, socio-political and historical significance of the works. It should consider the original audience and purpose, as well as a contemporary audience. This is complex and demanding – but not impossible!

3. Comparative Study point 2:

MAKING CONNECTIONS TO OWN ART-MAKING PRACTICE: (HL ONLY): The task is not to compare student art making with the selected art works, it is to consider how the comparative study has influenced the student’s development, by identifying connections between one or more of the selected works. Few were able to reflect on the developmental aspect of the connection. ‘Higher-level candidates often do not consider the outcome of the investigation in a meaningful way as an opportunity to reflect on what they have learnt from the investigation or as a way to make links with their art making’.

4. Process Portfolio point 1:

SKILLS, TECHNIQUES AND PROCESSES: Some students create good documentation of processes within one art making forms column, but a superficial (or ‘tokenistic’) work with limited technical development in a second column. This can limit achievement against this criterion because examiners consider the highest level achieved for each criterion with the most consistency. Students should aim to cover each of their art-making forms with consistency in depth and detail. They need to invest sufficient time to develop skills in each of the media they explore.

5. Process Portfolio point 2:

CRITICAL INVESTIGATION: Many students seem to have problems with this criterion. They need to explore works that are relevant to their art-making art-making. ‘This can be in terms of the medium, the style or the technique with which the medium is applied, the concepts or subject matter explored through the work.’ Discussing artists’ biographical information or failing to clearly explain and demonstrate the relevance of selected artworks will hinder achievement in criterion B.

6. Exhibition point 1:

COHERENCE: ‘Some candidates appeared to have a simplistic approach and may have assumed that it was sufficient just to have a “theme”.’ This is an old conversation and I don’t want to dig it up all over again, because it’s quite a complex issue and would take more time and space than is available here. Simply put: you don’t need to have a theme to achieve coherence in the way the guide defines the term. Having a theme is certainly not recommended by the IBDP Visual Arts assessment team.

7. Exhibition point 2:

TECHNICAL COMPETENCE: Variety is not necessarily the spice of life (or the key to success) in this criterion. An unnecessarily wide variety of media may hinder achievement because work in a wide range of art making forms can impact the overall quality of the exhibition, (variety of media can reflect a lack of sustained development in any single process).

OK…So how do I find this Report?

You can get to the Visual Arts Subject Report for May 2017 by visiting My IB, clicking on Programme Resource Centre, then Diploma Programme, then The arts/Visual arts, then Assessment and Subject Reports, where you will see the link to Subject report, May 2017.

That will you take you to a PDF download.

Image reference