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Core Objective 7: Artistic Composition, Interpretation & Expression

The Silver Core Curriculum does not take effect until Fall 2016


  • Silver Vein II: Primary Areas of Focused Inquiry
  • Brief Description of Learning Objective: Students will apply techniques of critical analysis to study, interpret, and/or create works of art, dance, music, and theater in the context of culture, society, and individual identity.

Standards or Requirements for Verification:

Only Core Fine Arts courses may be verified for CO7. These should be lower-division (100-200 level) general education courses, for 3 or more units each. Students enrolling in a total of three units of CO7 approved 1-credit practicum courses in Music, Theatre, and/or Dance (which include performance) may request a substitution.  

This objective is satisfied by 3 credits of Core Fine Arts courses approved by the Core Board. Where appropriate, majors are encouraged to develop this objective within their courses, and if possible to integrate this objective into the Core Capstone course.

The CO7 objective is meant to develop an understanding of human creative practice and provide the student with an informed appreciation of the world's visual and performing arts artistic heritage, both historical and contemporary. CO7 equips students to recognize the crucial role the arts play in shaping our experiences in and understanding of the world. The array of course offerings in CO7 enables the student to investigate either academic or practical studio approaches to the various forms and meanings of artistic expression. The course syllabus will be explicit about how students in the course will obtain, apply, and demonstrate knowledge about visual and performing arts in the context of culture, society, and individual identity.

All courses satisfying the Core Fine Arts requirement must include substantial attention devoted to critical interpretation to satisfy the criteria for CO7. While it is invaluable that students gain an understanding of fundamental visual and performing arts practices, it is crucial that a student's fine arts education include attention to analysis and evaluation based on knowledge of relevant historical, cultural, aesthetic, and/or theoretical visual and performing arts traditions. Students may satisfy the requirement either by articulating critical interpretation (based on artworks, performance, or theory and criticism of others,) or by producing an interpretation that demonstrates critical application of technique (i.e., in the form of a student's own artwork, performance, or creative expression that demonstrably takes into account a historical, cultural, aesthetic, or theoretical tradition).

Courses should include lecture, a writing component, and/or creative activity that results in a display of the student's artistic expression, whether through performance or exhibition. Courses satisfying CO7 should also develop CO1 and/or CO3.

Courses satisfying this Core Objective will meet the expectations for the Core Fine Arts requirement and should:

  1. Include the Core Objective, together with its brief description, on the course syllabus in its original form.
  2. Include one or more student learning outcomes addressing this Core Objective on the course syllabus, along with other student learning outcomes appropriate to the course.
  3. Identify in the course syllabus the teaching techniques and student experiences that will help students acquire the competencies described in the Core Objective.
  4. Assess whether students have acquired the competency described in the student learning outcomes and use methods for collecting and analyzing data that can be reported to the Core Curriculum Board.

Some examples of approved student learning outcomes and assessment methods are listed later in this document. Faculty may incorporate one or more of the examples from this list or propose their own student learning outcomes and methods of assessing the objective.


Suggested Student Learning Outcomes & Assessment Methods

Artistic Composition, Interpretation, & Expression

Students will engage historical and contemporary visual and performing arts through a variety of experiences (critical viewing, reading, verbal and written analysis, and creative practice) to study and interpret works of visual and performing arts in the context of culture, society, and individual identity.

Student Learning Outcomes

Courses satisfying CO7 might feature student learning outcomes like the ones listed below. Faculty may use outcomes from this list or propose their own outcomes addressing the objective. Learning outcomes must be observable and measurable so that they can be properly assessed.

Students will be able to:

  • use theoretical, critical, or practical concepts to analyze works of art, dance, music, and/or theatre
  • articulate relationships between works of art (dance, etc.) and their contexts: culture, society, and individual identity
  • articulate the relationships between historical context and works of art (either their own or those of others)
  • demonstrate knowledge of artistic theory or technique in a work or performance.

Direct Assessment Methods

All courses that are verified as satisfying a Core Objective will be assessed on a regular basis to determine how well students are learning the knowledge and skills described in the objective. Instructors are expected to develop ways of directly measuring student learning (through evaluating the work students produce in the course) and to report these measurements to the Core Board upon request.

The following are some examples of direct assessment methods that might be used in courses satisfying CO7. Examples of student work should be evaluated according to a clear, consistent rubric or set of criteria. Faculty may choose methods from this list or propose alternative assessment methods:

  • an assignment that asks students to apply concepts learned in the course to analyses of artistic works, in the form of an essay, oral report, or performance, evaluated using a rubric containing criteria keyed to this outcome and representing disciplinary standards
  • a written assignment or oral report analyzing how an artist's cultural surroundings and individual experiences might have influenced his or her work, evaluated via a rubric as described above
  • an essay requiring students to place an artistic work in historical context by explaining the social conditions that existed at the time it was produced, evaluated via a rubric as described above
  • a portfolio or performance of representative work demonstrating the student's application of artistic theory or technique, evaluated via a rubric as described above.

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