When I started college way back in the 1990s, I was an Art Therapy major. That never worked out for me because it was too much Psychology and not enough Art. In one of my Art Therapy classes, my professor went over the medical format of SOAP notes. Used primarily in doing patient intakes SOAP notes are an acronym, so each letter stands for a word and in this case SOAP Notes stand for Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan.
This year I began using the SOAP note format as writing prompts in my art class. I think it is essential for students to be self-reflective before a class critique and the SOAP notes help them gather the information they would like to share with the class about their inspiration and studio processes. As some of you know, leading a class critique can be challenging to get students to go beyond, “I like it” to explain why they like a piece of art, or what prompted them to go in a particular direction or make a decision regarding their artwork. The students writing their answers to the SOAP notes beforehand also focus their attention during the critique on studio practices or patterns they have not thought about previously.
Subjective: Here you document your inner experiences of your creativity in class. Here is where you can record your stream of consciousness. You can also document your observations about the research you did, and our previous class discussions. (Example: How is gesture important in my work? What did I learn from the thumbnail sketches I did? Why do my drawings need to look dark and moody for this topic? Etc.)
Objective: Here you write feedback that you receive from me (the teacher) during the class, or you can also document peer comments from previous critiques or working sessions. What did you take from this feedback?
Assessment: Write what you believe contributed to your most successful moment for this assignment or artwork. Also, write what contributed to your least successful moment in class. In other words, in this portion, you document your diagnosis of yourself in class including research, participation, and studio time.
Plan: In this section, you need to state what you feel is the most important plan for you to adopt for next class. What can you do to make your participation in class a better experience? Write a one sentence plan of action for the next class.
I hope that SOAP notes are something you will consider implementing in your class critiques, and please share your tips for successful critiques.
I teach future art teachers at Emporia State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.