Descriptive Review is a reflective protocol grounded in pure description. No two people observing the same event or work will see the same thing. The shared perspective of a group helps the group itself or a presenter to become more aware of aspects of a work or lesson that might otherwise have escaped notice. Descriptive Review is premised on the notion that description without judgment leads to deeper understanding of a subject because it slows down the meaning-making and grounds it in close observation of what is actually perceivable. Description without judgment can help us uncover assumptions about what we think we already know.
1. What do you notice? Describe without judgment. ("I notice…")
2. What questions does this work, activity, or subject of inquiry raise for you? ("I wonder…")
3. What meaning or understanding is intended or conveyed in this work? Speculate on the meaning behind a work or what an artist, teacher, or presenter wants learners to understand.
Descriptive Review allows artists, teachers, or students to assess their own work through this nonjudgmental lens. They hear where participants focused their attention; they take in participants' questions and speculations. This feedback helps presenters to make choices about what to change in their work for next time. All participants learn from each other new ways of looking at and thinking about the world.
Examples of how we've used this tool.
More about where this tool comes from.