Dealing with Art History Homework: A Step-by-Step Study Manual

Art history suffers from a bad case of underestimation. Too many students sign up for an art history class thinking that it’s all about looking at pretty pictures and nothing more. They get into the class, only to discover there is far more to it than that.

Art History requires some serious study skills if you’re looking to make a decent grade in the class. Memorization is part of the key to success in art history but that alone won’t get you through. Completing all assignments, including homework, is another large chunk of the grade. The basic study skills we’ve all learned will help: take notes, set up a study space, pace yourself, break the information into chunks.

There are some tips that are specific to getting art history homework done that may help, when combined with the general good study habits you’ve already developed:

  1. Flash cards. Not glamorous or entertaining by any means, but this tried and true method of study is effective. You can make them the old fashioned way with note cards and pens, or you can print them out using Keynote or PowerPoint.
  2. Organize your lists. Your art history homework will constantly require you to refer back to lists. These you’ll build as you go through the class. Organize them in Excel. Make a column for date, title, artist, style, medium, location and period. As you cover individual artworks in class or in your homework reading, enter them into your developing spreadsheet.
  3. Incorporate notes. You’ll be taking notes in class. That’s pretty much a given. Incorporate those notes into your lists of artwork.
  4. Expand beyond the classroom. Take the initiative to expand beyond your classroom. Use your computer to look up additional information on each of the artists you study in class. Add these to your list database.
  5. Cultivate a partner or two. When it comes to art history, a group study can quickly become more of a social gathering than a true learning session. Consider a single study partner or two from your class. Partners are particularly good to have when it comes time for projects, presentations and essays. A research buddy can be a big help.

Conclusion

Art history can be an intriguing and fascinating subject. It isn’t an easy class that you can attend once a week and skate through, however. If you find yourself struggling with the material, don’t despair. Rest assured there are others in the class feeling the same way. Seek them out to work on homework and assignments together. Share ideas and approaches to homework, and you’ll get through it.

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