Showcase Interview

Amy Fichter

Amy Fichter

Faculty Profile
Email Address

Teaching Strategy Video(s)
The Noticing Technique

Amy Fichter is teaches in UW-Stout’s Art department. She received holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina, an MA from the University of Northern Iowa, and a BA from Northwestern College.

Amy Fichter teaches Life Drawing 1 and 2, and Drawing 3 at UW-Stout. Her favorite is Life Drawing 1 where she teaches the students anatomy and musculature. To help her students understand these, she uses clay models that feature the musculature she is emphasizing. She also circulates among the students in her class and will sometimes make a small drawing in the corner of their paper so they can make a comparison. Amy believes that drawing can be learned, that the ability is not necessarily innate.

When Fichter first began her teaching at Stout, she experienced some resistance from the students because her method of teaching of Life Drawing was different from that of the previous teacher. She tried to teach like her graduate school mentor, being very strict and very direct when criticizing student work, but she discovered that her teaching inclination was not like her mentors’. That approach felt foreign and wrong for her; she knew she had to change. Amy read the works of Parker Palmer (Courage to Teach), and Stephen Brookfield (The Critically Reflective Teacher), and she began to take student feedback to heart. From this experience came Fichter’s strategy: “Noticing.”

“Noticing” is a way to critique, a traditional practice in Art. Students respond to the prompt, “What I notice is . . .” She devised this method as a way to make students’ comments on each other’s work less superficial and less judgmental. She referees it. For example, instead of saying, “You have no line variation,” the approach is “I notice all the lines are about the same width.” When students get these comments, they have to write what they would do differently. Sometimes the critiques are done in written form, not orally.

Amy has also started using student-created blogs in Life Drawing 1 and 2 after looking at e-portfolios. The blogs are a different way to communicate with each other. Students work in groups of four and respond to each other’s work. She is surprised to discover that students aren’t as comfortable online as she expected. They like reading what others have written, but they don’t like writing their own critiques. Nevertheless, she hopes it creates a sense of community in the class.